Have you heard about the extreme sport called expedition mountaineering? It is one of the most dangerous activities you can do – attempting to reach the summits of mountains like Mt. Rainier in Washington or Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
Most extreme sports are done alone, like cliff diving and BASE jumping. But this one is done in a group. And as such, the expedition mountaineering team must train and prepare for the climb, with intense conditioning of the body and diligent study to understand the weather and climbing equipment. The team is preparing for danger – rock slides, avalanches, high altitudes, and bad weather. If one person makes an error, the entire team is at risk of injury or even death.
The only protection from the risks involved is the preparation and experience of the team.
Have you learned this same lesson in leadership?
Pursuing a bold, daring destination at work has inherent dangers too. And only preparation and experience can reduce the risks of falling short of the goal.
As I reflect on the turnaround of Popeyes performance, preparation and experience were just as important as the bold goals that we set. Here is just one example.
We wanted to be the most innovative food company in our type of business. We have a great brand with a wealth of inspiration from Louisiana cookbooks. But that history alone would not get us to a position of innovation leadership in our industry. First, we had to assemble a team of capable chefs who both loved and understood the distinctive food of this region. Next, we had to set performance parameters for the new products – for sales, costs, ease of preparation, and guest response. Finally, with these hurdles in mind, we had to create a process that generated a large number of ideas – which met the performance criteria – and would be reliably successful when launched in our restaurants. This rigorous process takes approximately 18 months, from first idea to a proven new product that drives results in our restaurants.
Months of preparation from a broad, cross-functional team of experienced people allowed us to reach the bold goal.
As a leader, you are not only the visionary for your team, you are also the one who must assemble a capable team with the skills needed to reach the destination. You are responsible for the preparation of the team – rigorous planning, monitoring of milestones, and feedback – that raises the likelihood of success.
Are you doing your part to protect your team from the dangers of pursuing a daring destination? Have you done everything you can to help them reach the summit of high performance?