Clever Questions - Where do you want to be?
It is the question that is asked at every job interview for a leader and it is asked at every board meeting. It is a key leadership question;
Where do you want to be?
It is an important question and the one that we should be asking each time we consider the change we want to bring as a leader. Change and leading it well is a key part of leadership. It is maybe why Seth Godin said that ‘Leadership was painting a picture of the future, go there and people will follow.’ That one sentence explains the importance as a leader of painting the picture of where you want to be, modelling the values and encouraging people to follow. Leadership has clarity of concept in this sentence. However, we all know that in practice it is more nuanced and complex and getting change right is crucial.
Timothy Knoster, in 1991, outlined a simple and clear model for 5 elements that are needed for complex change. It reflected the earlier work of Mary Lippitt in 1987 and D Ambrose in 1987. In Knoster’s model he highlights that successful change happens when there is
Right at the start of this, it highlights that there needs to be a clear vision for the change or it will lead to confusion. We need to ask ‘where do we want to be’? It is about getting really clear ourselves in order to get others clear. What does it look like, sound like, smell like, taste like? There should be a clear vivid picture of the nirvana that we are taking people to.
We need to ask the ‘where do we want to be?’ of every area that Knoster highlights.
With skills – where do we want to be?
With Incentives – where do we want to be?
With resources – where do we want to be?
With our action plan – where do we want to be?
Paint the picture so vivid and clear.
A continual question
Temptation is for the leader to then think that their work is done. It’s natural – I have painted my picture. But leadership is an ongoing, dynamic piece of art. It is living and breathing and dynamic and so therefore our question of ‘where do we want to be?’ needs to be the same.
When things go wrong, we need to ask ‘where do we want to be?’ That question reminds people to pick themselves up and work through the challenge.
When we see values that we agreed being eroded, then again, we need to ask the question, ‘where do we want to be?’ Reminding people of our vision for our culture and therefore helping them understand that the values we demonstrate in our behaviours need to signpost the end goal.
Handling change, moving towards the vision, is about constantly asking that question. Knoster’s model addresses the proactive, plan for the change in having those 5 areas. It also recognises that if you see the emotions of confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration and a treadmill that it also needs to be reactive. When you see these emotions, you need to respond by coming back to the area that needs developing. So
If we see confusion, we come back to ‘where do we want to be?’ for the vision.
if we see anxiety, we come back to ‘where do we want to be?’ for the skills.
if we see resistance, we come back to ‘where do we want to be?’ for the incentives.
if we see frustration, we come back to ‘where do we want to be?’ for the resources.
if we see treadmill feeling, we come back to ‘where do we want to be?’ for the action plan.
A personal question too
And where does the greatest use of this question come in? It can be most powerful when we apply it to ourself.
Where do I want to be?
This can be applied to our personal or leadership self. Knoster’s model can be great to apply to ourselves as we look at the change, we want to bring about in ourselves. Just like asking it of our organisation, it is a good continual question to ask of ourself, It has the potential to bring us great change and joy.
Can we help you?
We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore where you want to be then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.
Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now: email@example.com