Business visionaries are often heralded as saviors, heroes or catalysts and without them, goes the story, an organization simply couldn’t be what it is today. Personalities like Jack Welch and Steve Jobs often come to mind. But a company’s visionaries are like lightning rods. When focused, they channel massive energy and power into a company, but if not, they fizzle and burn out. It’s the job not only of the leadership team, but also your outside consultants and advisors to help to harness the power of your visionaries in your business. There are five fundamentals that we’ve found are essential when harnessing the power of your visionaries.
1) Secure a leader and an advisor to keep visionaries on track while providing structure for the team.
However, it also requires a great deal of upfront work from the company leader, advisor, and the team. If you are the leader of this process, prepare for your role to range from cheerleader to strategist to taskmaster. It’s important to keep the process professional, honest, open, and informal to ensure optimal participation. Because of the significance of their role, I use the term advisor, whether this person is an internal team member or an external consultant.
2) Work with an advisor who is trusted, approachable.
Your advisors must be able to effectively read people to lead the team through honest and open dialogue. The advisor must extract information from the team members, regardless of how introverted they are or reluctant to address hard truths. The behavioral assessment tools give the advisor the ability to do it. More introverted team members typically are not as forthcoming by nature, yet when they talk, their words can speak volumes. And even for extroverts, it’s not always easy to admit to shortcomings in themselves or the business.
3) Clearly outline the responsibilities of the advisor.
The advisor’s role must be a clear cut as possible. I recommend first gaining majority agreement from the team and them turning your focus to strategic decisions and accomplishing agenda items. Advisors often work on everything from high-level facilitation down to tasks like recording notes and preparing a written plan for the selecting a planning team. I advise keeping things simple and executable. Make sure that the advisor you choose can execute the process effectively.
4) The leader should not be the advisor.
In some companies, it might seem like the best person to lead the planning team and the process is the owner or CEO. Each organization has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both for your specific situation. The advantages of the owner or CEO leading the way are that the process is perceived as more important, the leader is typically more strategic/visionary, and the leader can channel the necessary resources and focus to drive the process to completion. However, there are disadvantages: the owner or CEO could overpower the process, could be more focused on the process rather than the plan, and may significantly influence and bias the plan. As result most of the plan might be developed by the leader with very little input or buy-in from the rest of the planning team or organization.
5) Manage the advisor-leader relationship.
It is also important to understand the interaction between the advisor and the leader of the organization. There are a few guidelines to follow that will ensure the two ‘leaders’ are productive in this endeavor:
– The advisor and leader need to interact consistently and effectively throughout the process.
– The advisor needs to provide counsel and advice to the leader along the way on how to optimize the process and bring the team together. He or she can speak to specific issues but never identify who said what in confidential discussions with team members.
– The leader and advisor need to build a relationship of trust as well because they will be having candid conversations throughout the process. The leader will likely look to the advisor for coaching and recommendations throughout the process. And at times, the leader can be the cause of some of the challenges the business is facing and the advisor has to have the ability to be professionally candid with the leader and help him or her improve.
Can you channel the incredible power that lies within your business? Find a leader and advisor today to help your visionaries supercharge your company.
– Steve Van Remortel is an author, speaker, and CEO for SM Advisors. His most recent work is Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream. Steve’s passion is to provide all business leaders a simple step-by-step planning process to simultaneously optimize their strategy that they can implement into their organization to achieve unprecedented growth in sales and profitability. For the record, Steve’s favorite ice cream is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough which he enjoys with his wife and four children.