“Years ago I was in the audience of a Liz Story concert. She is a cool jazz pianist who has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards. In the middle of one of her songs she stopped, slowly turned to the audience and said: “You know, in quantum physics, if you know where you’re going you have no idea where you are… and if you know where you are, you have no idea where you are going… life is a lot like that.

I appreciate Liz Story. And you know, she brings up a good point to consider: we need to understand where our organizations have been, how we got to our current position, where our organizations are headed, and why exactly we want to go there. So let us wax strategic and begin with a hot topic these days: a vision for the future.

1.Vision. Executive secretaries and administrative professionals who support a clear vision for their teams reinforce a climate that can maximize performance. Note that I did not say “a rosy vision”. I simply said clear vision. Good, bad or indifferent, people want to know where they are going: in their careers, in life, on the motorway. As such, it is good leadership to communicate that vision to team members. When you communicate your organization’s vision to your team, remember to do so in a succinct, understandable fashion.

2.Priorities. Once the future is clear, priorities can be set. Use your priority management system of choice in order to help your team focus on what will be accomplished during the upcoming year. On a monthly basis, update your priority communication tool so as to maintain clarity regarding the big rocks in your team’s world.

3.Goals. Good professionals set meaningful goals. You know, SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. As much as possible, engage your team in goal setting. Also, pay special attention to ensure that individual goals align with team goals, and that team goals are consistent with organizational priorities. Think about it as a chiropractic adjustment for the organization. If everything is in proper alignment, comfort will be experienced.

4.Action planning. Goals come to life when the tasks that accomplish goals are properly planned. An action plan calls for tasks to be listed in such a fashion that each task has an owner. The owner of a task takes responsibility for the proper completion of the task. Along the way, a specific time frame for completing the task should be noted. Lastly, the items listed on an action plan should be measured in some way. If a quantifiable measure cannot be determined, simply use “pass / fail”. Remember that a well-structured action plan is a great follow-up tool for leaders, and a terrific accountability tool for team members.

5.Execution. I heard the CEO of Masonite once say that execution is the delivery of our promises. Help your team’s execution shine by delivering on your promises within the designated time frame. Time management tools such as day planning, coupled with smart action plans and logical priorities can pave the way for solid execution and meaningful results.

The bottom line
Smart executive secretaries and administrative professionals realize that team members follow people who articulate a clear vision of the future. Further, once team members know where they are headed it becomes easier to set priorities and agree on goals. It then becomes easy to assist team members with well-orchestrated action plans. All this culminates in meaningful results. Voila! Oh, and do not forget to make a quantum leap along the way and listen to a little Liz Story.

Doug Van Dyke is president of Leadership Simplified, a firm dedicated to providing leadership development programs, executive coaching, strategic planning, corporate training and meaningful keynote speeches. Contact: Doug@LeadershipSimplified.com.

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