Leading With A Vision - What Google Maps taught me about Leadership

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Before making my way on a long road trip I decided to download the new TomTom app to my phone. I paid a small fee as it boasted of it's GPS navigation rather than using data, saving me a bit of money and it was working great. It had user-friendly functions and it was quick and easy to use whilst in transit. It was working great, however, my appreciation for the app took a sudden turn for the worse when I found myself being lead to drive up and down the motorway as a result of the app not being able to pinpoint the correct destination. I ended up having to revert back to the Google Maps app I had used previously. Google Maps allowed me to see my full journey very clearly and it even gave me a step by step written plan accompanied with a narration that told me what to do at each step of the journey. I've not gone back to use the Tom Tom app since as it left me in a vulnerable position and was about as useful as a chocolate teapot! All trust had gone and I could no longer rely on it.

Once I finally got to my destination this experience made me reflect on how I can sometimes be just like that Tom Tom app. Promising to lead my family to a certain destination but not quite landing us in the right place. I've made a plan to lead my wife and my family in a certain direction but often neglect to share the bigger picture, narrate the step by step journey to them, and fill them with a confidence that when I say "I'll get us to a certain destination in life" they can rely on me to take them there. I was relying on the navigation system to lead me to a destination and a man's position of leadership within his home can draw some great parallels and perhaps learn a thing or two from Google Maps. Here are a few things Google maps made me think about when leading my family with clear vision!


Write the vision

I learned that I needed to figure out where I wanted to go in life and write it down. What's the goal? What does the journey look like from where I'm am today to where I want myself and my family to be? What's the ETA?

A study carried out in the Harvard MBA Program concluded that, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Science proves the benefits of writing your visions down... even the Great Good book itself tells us that we should write our plans and visions down to so that it is clear for all who read it and then wait for it to happen. The truth is, however, writing a vision can be hard If you don't have a destination in mind. If you don’t know what you want and where you want to go in life, you'll never know what you need to do to achieve reaching that destination. Pursuing a personal journey of discovery can often help reveal what your purpose is as a family. Think about what contribution your family will make to this world? This journey of discovery is the fun part as it requires you to get creative and dream. So dream BIG! Dream about what you really want to create for yourself and your family? Don’t be afraid to write down grand, impressive goals. Then start to think about what your ideal life look like? Take note of all the details. What does your day look like? Where are you living?

My father use to tell me that "In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king" Tweet this! so in essence, even if your capacity to dream is small at the moment that’s fine because, big or small, a little vision is better than none. Try to see beyond the now to increase your vision and once you have that lightbulb moment... put pen to paper or write out an email and send it to yourself.

You may have a great vision but no solid plan of action to execute that vision successfully and that's ok because the truth is that plans and routes change all the time but as long as you have a clear vision then you have the most important element. My brother lives in a house far from the City of London and when he stares out of his window, first thing in the morning he overlooks the Shard which stands at an impressive 1,016 ft tall in the City. He can see the building towering over London's skyline but the truth is that he could not tell you how to get there. As long as he could see the building, he would manage to somehow find his way to this destination, however, anyone following him would be following blindly. When you are following someone blindly you will naturally have a low sense of confidence in reaching the end destination and this is one of the benefits of writing things down also. I've found that planning is sometimes (when I say sometimes I really mean ALWAYS!) best done with my co-captain, my Head of Operations... my wife. Most of our wives are great at planning (a woman's trait possibly?) and will often support us by helping to shape and form the life map for our family in a way that compliments the visions that we (as men) bring to the table. This co-partnership could not happen unless the vision was first made plain and clear through written explanation for complete clarity and understanding.


Create a mission statement

Have you every noticed that before Google Maps starts giving you any directions it will present you with a brief synopsis that states your destination (mission), how long the journey will take, it will give you the option to tailor the route should you need to make a slight diversion, and it will also inform you whether your route is clear or not. It provides us with this information in just a few short lines which afford us a moment to think before we make a commitment to hitting the drive button! This is what a mission statement will do for a family. It will reinforce to yourself and tell those on this journey with you where you are going and whether the roads along the way will be clear or not. Being armed with this information allows those that are under our care to fully understand what they are subscribing to. Everyone can then use this to remind them of why they do what they do and that it's all a part of building towards the bigger vision. A family mission statement helps gain an individuals buy-in and commitment to ride this journey until we reach the final destination or until it's time for a new mission to start!

Having a family mission statement may sound bazaar, however, think about it like this; most thriving business have a clear and simple mission statement that explains why they even exist. Look at Steve Jobs. His mission was "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind." Tweet this! This accurately reflected his ethos which had a huge effect on everything that came out to the public under his brand and leadership. There's a reason why multi-million dollar companies pay millions for consultancies to create a mission statement that sums up their core belief's and its very reason for existing. I don't believe there's a person in the world that can honestly say that they wouldn't want to see more families thriving as some of these successful business' do. So just as a business understands the importance of encapsulating a standard and a sense of value within a mission statement, I've come to realise that a family mission statement should be no different. Its purpose is to embody your family’s purpose, goals, and moral standards. Creating a family mission statement provides a shared sense of values, purpose and bonds parents and children together. Tweet this! Using a family mission statement as a daily mantra helps to evaluate and be accountable for each other’s behaviour, provide a sense of meaning, value, identity and provides everyone involved with the sense of being connected to something far bigger than themselves that has a positive impact on our world.


Hold regular family meetings

Google maps don't host regular meetings with me however It connects with me at certain touch point to make sure I'm on the right track. If I make a wrong turn then it is able to get me back on track without haven't to divert off course too much . When I've lead teams within the professional capacity it's always been vitally important for me to touch base with those under my care and leadership. This gives you the opportunity to tell them any new developments within the business but more importantly, you have an even bigger opportunity to get their insight and thoughts on the company. The key to these meeting is to reinforce the vision, listen to what their individual goals are and get your family to "buy into" and connect with the vision by making it relevant to each individual. Find out where they see themselves in 1 year, 5 years or even 10 years down the line. By finding out where your team players want to be you can then start thinking of ways to link that development and strength back to the business or in this case back to the family home! Don't shy away from using some your skills that you would use in a professional capacity to get your team at home to connect with the plans and visions you have for your family. Put some targets for your family to reach for on an excel sheet and get everyone excited about striving for the things that they want to personally achieve. Ask the questions and get to understand where your wife sees herself and where your kids see themselves. What are their individual aspirations and goals? Do you know? The likelihood is that if you are anything like me then most of the time our understanding of what others want can sometimes be vague, however, by holding family meetings or even connecting on a one on one basis with your wife, your kids, your TEAM... you'll gain their attention, their trust and they will soon discover that you plan to lead and direct them to help them achieve what they want out of life Tweet this! by linking their personal goals into the big picture of the families goals.


Lead them to the promise land

Google deliver every time!!! I don't even use the other app anymore because Google Maps does what it says it will do! We must do the things we say we'll do and lead our loved ones to the destination we said we would! The very reason I lost trust in my Tom Tom app was because it said that it was going to take me to my destination but then had me wasting time driving back and forth. It never really had the end destination in sight. When Google maps says it will get me to my destination I completely trust that it will do what it say's it will do. If there's a bit of traffic on the road or there has been a road accident that it may need to reroute away from then it simply lets me know and advises that there may be other routes for me to take and adjust the time accordingly. Google maps have a great line of communication with me and keep me updated all the way. Nothing is ever a guaranty in life however when you put a step by step plan together and have others who buy into your vision and plan, you increase your chances of successfully reaching the promise land.


There's a proverb that says "Where there is no vision, people perish." Having vision is a key attribute to leading a growing family and having it written down is equally as important as it forces you to clarify exactly what you want and it will motivate you and your family to take action. So... write them down! Statistics have proven that people who write down their plans, goals and visions have 80% higher success rate of achieving them. Tweet this! Lead with a clear focus and vision that allows you to look ahead, to act with foresight. Without vision there is no action and if there is no action you can not lead or direct your key players. You can't steer a parked car and your vision is the engine that will fuel and power your wife and kids to progress and move onwards and upwards.

Question for our female readers: What leadership qualities do you most look for in a man and in what ways can we (as men) display and demonstrate those qualities?


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