Getting Back to Leadership Basics in 2024
By Peggy Tierney Galvin, chief strategy officer, Force4 Technology Communications
At the end of the year, there’s a lot of introspection about how the year went: what went well, what could have been different, and what to change for next time. It’s easy to look back and spot these things. But sometimes it’s a lot harder to look ahead and plan, especially in a market where fundamentals have shifted so much, and in many places have yet to settle down.
In the movie Good Will Hunting, there is a gripping scene where Robin Williams, playing a psychologist, calls out his brilliant and troubled patient, Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. Damon has been blustering and stomping around the office to avoid opening up to the vulnerability of his therapy session. Then, a simple question from his therapist stops him cold: “What do you want to do?” When Damon’s character finds himself unable to answer, his therapist shrewdly observes that his client is, in short, full of it: “I ask you a very simple question and you can’t give me a straight answer.”
We all know leaders like that. A lot of grandiose statements, but little actual direction. That’s one of the reasons leadership is difficult. Often just knowing what to do is unclear. A simple directive, such as “this is our goal, we’re going to take these actions to achieve them, and this is how we’re going to do it,” is easy to write on paper. Yet in a modern company, the data needed to support why you’re making those choices might be siloed in a dozen places. A leader might have a dozen different entities to report to. And your own managers’ guidance might itself be …less than clear. These can trip up your best-effort attempts to set out, communicate and execute on a clear plan for your team. But leaders know their teams need clear leadership with clear direction, context, reasoning, and KPIs to help them execute a successful strategy for the new year.
So, what to do? We work with our clients to get at the core of what their business goals are, with as much granular detail as possible, and work back from there, quarter over quarter with KPIs to show how the plans we put in place will help achieve those goals. And we drink our own champagne by putting this leadership methodology to work for our own agency goals as well. Fundamentally, we know what to plan for and how to plan for it through a combination of asking our clients what their own goals are, what is important to them, and filtering it through our own decades of experience as a team to design and deliver the program that we know will deliver the results they’re looking for.
It might sound simple, but at the end of the day, it’s just plain wicked smaht.