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Journey - Allocation

One of my earliest memories of heading to school was catching the bus for school at the end of the farm track where we lived. With my little satchel over my shoulder of my green jumpered uniform I remember trudging up what felt like three mountainous steps into the 1960’s coach. Being only 5, it was a somewhat daunting journey into the unknown. There at the top of the steps stood Mrs Woodward, the coach escort, whose job it was to make sure that the children remained seated and behaved on the coach whilst the driver drove the coach. Her repertoire was limited to a fairly repetitive, “Sit down, Sit down,” to some of the older 11-year-olds at the back of the bus. I wasn’t convinced, even as a 5-year-old, that her heavily hairsprayed bouffant hairstyle and fur coat particularly helped her to perform her role of keeping order and safety on the bus. School buses no longer have such a luxury as a Mrs Woodward, but she had her role and when done well it ensured the bus driver to do his well, get us to school safely.

Maybe most of our journeys are in the car and therefore the driver drives and the passengers just sit there. But understanding allocation of roles for a team on a journey is crucial.


If you asked me what my favourite training session activity is, it would without a doubt be the gutters and balls activity. Each team member is allocated a 60cm length of guttering and standing too far apart to just lay the gutters together, they have to transport as many ball pool balls as possible in 30 seconds. The concentration, competition and determination levels are high as each team wants to get as many as possible. Alongside the fun, we unpick a series of key messages about leadership and working as a team. One of which is the importance of knowing your role and the impact it has on others. As leaders, we set ourselves up for failure when we fail to allocate clear roles and responsibilities, clarify what good looks like and what each person needs to do well to help others in the team succeed. We examine, what does the picker of the balls need to do well to help the first gutter person? What does a good gutter person need to do to help the next person?

It is so easy for people to get it when it is less personal, like a gutter carrier. But allocating clear roles and what it looks like when we do it well can transform the person’s view of their job. Helping them see the impact on their colleagues when they do their job well helps them recognise the importance. When we take our organisation on a direction, if people know their role, they have the ability to become a contributor and not just a consumer. They become a producer and not just a passenger.

Taking people forward as an organisation, starts with a clear vision, but without the allocation of clear roles and how people contribute to make it successful, it will fail. If you are planning a leadership journey, or even the day to day of an organisation, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  • What is my vision for this journey?

  • What roles do we need to make it work well?

  • What does each person need to do well to make is successful?

  • Does each person know they impact they have on their team members when they do the job well?


Patrick Lencioni, in his book ‘The Truth about Employee Engagement’, talks about 3 key areas to keep staff engaged in a workplace. It is not about money or status. It is to be

  • To be Known

  • To know your Relevance

  • To know the Measurement of success

His book actually talks about the 3 areas that disengage staff to help land this point. Staff become disengaged when they feel ‘Anonymous’, that their boss doesn’t know who they are or feel they are just a number not a name. They lose passion for their job when they don’t know the relevance of it, when they don’t know the impact that it has on people. Thirdly they lose engagement when there is ‘immeasurement’ and they don’t know how to measure their success.

So, when we are going on a journey with our team, it is key that we take time to ensure these 3 things are in place.


This is such an easy thing to do. It is taking time to get to know your team as individuals. Have a cuppa with them, ask them what their weekend was like, what things they love doing. Find some points of common connection where you can. Show some recognition, eg ‘that sounds like you enjoy it’ or if their week has been hard, ‘that sounds like it was a tough weekend for you’. You’ll be amazed the difference it can make as they relate to you as a human being not just as a leader.


There is a simple statement you can give each team member to let them know the difference that they make.

“When you do your job well the impact it has is . . . .”

It’s simple but allows people to know the relevance of their job. How it makes a difference to colleagues or how is makes a difference to the people that your organisation serves.


How do we know when we do something well? When we know what we are judging it against. Everyday Leader’s job is to empower people. So, I know I have done a good coaching job when I get the feedback that they have been empowered to tackle something previously a challenge. Chloe, my PA, knows she has done a great job when people are booked in for coaching or training and all the details needed are set up. Each week we review how things have gone so she knows it went well. What does success look like for those you work with? Do you tell them this is how you measure when it has gone well?

Some questions that might help you review your allocation and engagement could be:

  • How well do I know those I am responsible for or my team mates?

  • Have I told those that report to me what difference their job makes and who it makes a difference to?

  • Have I told my team how to measure they are doing their job well?

If you would like coaching on developing this for your team, do get in contact with us. We are happy to work with individuals and a team to generate stronger allocation. If we work with your team, you can experience the gutters and balls first hand!

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching or training, do make contact with us. Do let us know if we can be of help to you by contacting us on


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