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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
like were on a road to nowhere, April 6, 2008, 2D.
As a teenager
during the early days of the music video revolution, I remember trying to watch music
videos whenever I could get the chance. One
of my favorite videos was Road to Nowhere by the Talking Heads. Throughout the song, the lead singer is seen
steadily running in place in a small, superimposed rectangle in the lower right corner of
the screen while images of all types pass by in the background. The lyrics tell about being on a road to
nowherethat line is repeated many times during the song. Watching the singer continually running during the
video is mesmerizing and somewhat depressing. What
a sad fate it would be to perpetually run nowhere.
organizations also seem to run on the road to nowhere.
Those without a clear purpose and goals, those without a vital and relevant
mission, and those without people who aspire to accomplish new and interesting things are
often heading nowhere. As with a ship that is
pushed along aimlessly by the tide and wind, a directionless organization might find that
it will eventually move away from where it started. Sometimes
an aimless movement to nowhere in particular can result in good things for the
organization. However, when the tide and wind
is used in conjunction with a desired destination, navigation, course corrections, and an
able crew, ships can be quickly and safely maneuvered to their destinations. Effective captains guide effective shipsthey
prepare their ships for the journey, they constantly monitor environmental conditions,
they plan and follow navigable routes, and they assemble and work with able crews.
organizations need effective leadership to guide them somewhere. Leadership is about vision, direction, and
movement. Effective leaders provide followers
with destinations to which they aspire and they work with their followers to reach them. When the journey to the destination seems
perilous, leaders provide their followers with confidence and assurance. Effective leaders prepare their organizations for
the journey and they constantly scan the environment for threats that might slow down or
impede their journey and for opportunities that could move them along faster. They chart courses of movement appropriate for the
abilities and limits of their organizations and they make periodic adjustments to their
planned routes. Effective leaders also build
effective work teams. They inspire team
members to work toward desirable destinations and they work with followers to reach their
your organization is one that aspires to maintaining the status quo or simply
going with the flow, your organization may be on the road to nowhereand
that is not typically a place that organizations seek to go. To go somewhere in a purposeful and
coordinated manner, organizations need leaders and leadership throughout their
ranksfrom executive-level positions all the way down to first-level positions. When destinations are reached, leaders guide their
organizations to new and better destinations. Vision,
goals, direction, teamwork, and continuous change are the ingredients of leadership and
the keys to keeping organizations off of the road to nowhere.
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