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Which Way?

It is Friday night and I am headed to LaGuardia airport in New York City– in the borough of Queens. The traffic is heavy. It is raining, and chances are good flights will be delayed.

If you have ever traveled through a major airport on a Friday night, you know this feeling. Your head has a slight throb, your teeth are gritted tight, and you are bracing for the worst. The likelihood of getting to your destination without complications– near zero.

But imagine this: what if I arrive at this busy airport, jump out of the cab with my suitcase, and run up to the screen to find my flight, only to realize that I have no idea where I am going?

The emotion? Anxiety to be sure.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.’
—Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Too often this is what we experience in the workplace.

We dutifully come to work. We have a pile of projects and papers on our desk. We have calendar “invites” to seven meetings in a day that will only hold five. The phone starts ringing and going to voicemail. We glance through the emails to see where the crises lie. The typical day has begun.

But what is the destination? Why am I working so hard?

The emotion? Anxiety.

The first job of the leader is to declare the daring destination for the team. Clarity about the destination focuses and inspires the people. They know getting there will be a challenge, but if reached they will know a true sense of accomplishment– there will be a win to celebrate.

The daring destination is a well-defined place that you can picture in your mind. For example, at Popeyes we set goals like these: We will have sales of $1.3MM per store. We will have 180 second service at the drive-thru. The average restaurant will make $300K in operating profit. Because the destination is well defined, everyone will know when we arrive!

Next, the leader works with the team to choose the strategies that will get the organization to the daring destination. This is the “road-map” that defines the specific things must we do to deliver these measurable goals. For example, at Popeyes we said: We must launch 4 new products a year. We must train our team members in speed of service basics. We must save $10MM in the supply chain.

Finally, the leader asks the team to map out a detailed work plan to implement the road-map strategies. For example, the team must decide: What process will we use to find the best 4 new products to launch? Who will build the training program for our team members? What areas will we review to find cost savings?

These are the steps to mapping out the daring destination for your team. This is how you build your team’s “Road-map to Results.”

Don’t let your team feel anxious and unclear about the future.

Give them a daring destination to focus their work and inspire success!

Discover more about creating a daring destination in our companion video discussion guide.

0 Responses

  1. Cheryl this is a fantastic piece. A company I worked for in a former life had a leader who shared a very similar view about leaders who prepare their teams for “a long journey.” Your people are fortunate to have a leader such as yourself. Keep up the great work!

  2. Dear Cheryl,

    Appreciate this week’s challenge! Having a daring destination that is clear and approachable makes for a “want to” work towards that destination. Creates excitement and passion in the working day to day! I am in a sitution where the destination keeps changing and it creates caos and confusion. Within that caos like feeling I am trying to make a difference with the teams I am leading. Thank you for your daily challenge.


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