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4 Leadership Lessons from Travel

Jul 8, 2015 | Leadership | 26 comments

There are few things in life more like traveling than leadership. Because while aspiring leaders believe it’s all about the destination, more seasoned veterans know that the joy is really in the journey.

1. Know Where You Want to Go

While this may seem obvious, it bears mentioning. To be a good leader, you have to know where you want to go. When you’re traveling, you have a planned destination, and you’re going to need a good map or navigation system. To be a good leader, you have to know where you want to go. Click To Tweet If you want to lead, you need to know what the desired destination is; what is the goal? Then, you have to be passionate about getting there. A leader doesn’t stand around waiting to see what the consensus is before determining a direction, he or she relies on solid planning.

2. Know What It Will Take to Get There

Trips require planning and preparation. Are you headed to the beach? Make sure your suitcase contains sunglasses, towels and those little umbrellas for your drink. Planning a ski trip in the mountains? Look at the route, and a jacket and gloves better be in your bag. For leaders, the joy is really in the journey. Click To Tweet A good leader thinks through the course, and knows there are some things you’ll need to prepare for, such as building a balanced team. Will people with particular skill sets, like graphic design or sales ability, be needed to achieve the vision? It’s important to make sure they’re a part of the team far enough in advance that you don’t have to play catch-up.

3. Map Out the Best Route

With the notable exception of Moses, a legendary leader, people don’t follow someone who is wandering through the desert. Know where you want to go, and decide the best way to get there. Just like the map app on your phone indicates, there’s usually more than one way to get where you’re going. Know where you want to go, and decide the best way to get there. Click To Tweet When planning your course, you’re going to need to consider more than just the final destination. You’ll need to take into account who you’re traveling with, whether speed or the scenery is a priority and above all, which way will provide the best long-term result. Sometimes, it’s wise to build a few extra “leg stretching” stops into the plan. Other times, it’s best to proceed to the route immediately. Use these factors to plan the course for your team:

  • Who is on your team?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the mini-goals that are important to the group?

MapBy the way, there are going to be times you’re going to have to recalculate the route. This isn’t a mark of failure, this is simply how forward motion works. It’s important to have a plan, and it’s just as important to be willing to adjust the plan. Notice I didn’t say, “Change the destination.” But there’s no earthly way you can predict all the variables that will occur as you’re leading your team to success. So don’t let detours scare you too much. They’re going to happen. It’s important to have a plan, and it’s just as important to be willing to adjust the plan. Click To Tweet

4. State Your Expectations

If you’ve ever traveled with your kids, then you’ve heard the universal anthem, “Are we there yet?” This is aggravating in a moving car, and it’s mystifying 37,000 feet in the air. Kids, if the vehicle is still moving and you don’t see the big sign, we’re not there yet. One of the most important jobs a leader does is set expectations for those who are following.One of the most important jobs a leader does is set expectations for those who are following. Click To Tweet Keep them in the loop so they are prepared for bumps in the road, and so they aren’t frustrated (or frustrating) when you have to make detours or pit stops. The journey of leadership will take you to some of the most exciting destinations on earth: gratitude, joy and satisfaction. Knowing how to travel well will help you and those who are following enjoy the trip much more.

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