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Finding the Sweet Spot Between Inspirational and Operational Leadership
February 20, 2018

It’s early Q1 as I write this, and if you are a CEO, you and your management team are in the process of rolling out this year's plan. Most likely, your plan has been discussed, debated, and adjusted with the input of your board and investors. Your exec team has looked the successes and failures from last year and adjusted accordingly to set this year’s more realistic, yet ambitious, goals. Management feels good and the feedback they’ve received is that the team is well aligned.

Well done. You got a great plan in place. Now as you roll it out, let’s talk about the other important part of your job that has a huge impact on what kind of year the company is going to have: Your attitude. People want to be inspired about the new plan and what’s on the horizon, and you are the only one in your company who has the role and expectation to do that for them.

Inspirational leadership is a topic that has been written about many times, and the method of inspiration will vary based on your personality. That’s all good. But however it happens, the start of a new year is the one unique and perishable time to effectively deliver this message and then hit it home over the next 12 months.

Operational leadership is hugely important to set proper goals, define tactical measurements and track the performance against the goals. But the tactical focus for a new year becomes more effective if it’s coupled with the real reason that your company is in business, and the clear vision of what is possible. It’s important that we CEOs consistently share the WHY of what we do, in addition to the WHAT we need to get done.

Most employees I’ve spoken with through the years, come to a company to perform their role with a desire to do their job well, get rewarded, and at some point become recognized for their value to the company. But what inspires them, and what can be the fuel for growth, is to tap into the real reason all employees are there and what they are working towards as a collective goal...they want to feel like they are a part of something important, and that their work makes a difference to the company and its customers.

Setting a vision of what a company can become over a three to five year period can build great alignment for a team on why they come to work, but also inspire them on how the business can become truly great.

A well-outlined tactical focus becomes more effective when coupled with the real reason the company is in business… the soul of the company... and the clear vision of what is possible. The effective balance of these messages, operational and inspirational, will allow a CEO to unleash his or her team to achieve greater things in the coming year.

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