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As paradoxical as it sounds, many teams, groups and organisations are “NOT” pulling the oars of their boat in the same direction.

This may sound crazy but the truth of the matter is it is happening often. So often in fact, you could almost assume this is what is supposed to happening. Here’s a quick tip – it’s not.

If you are not convinced that this is taking place more than you would like to believe, try the following. Next time you visit a sports team or any other organisation for that matter, take some time to ask a few individuals what they see as the number one priority for their team or organisation at present.

You can almost bank on the fact you will get a variety of answers. Many, no doubt will be well justified (at least to that individual or sub groups thinking), however very few answers will lead you to the conclusion that they are operating like a finely tuned rowing crew moving through the water.

Often termed the “silo effect” what may start off as an innocent idea to do something different, or what someone has deemed important, can lead to small breakaways occurring until a point is reached whereby an individual, or group, are heading in a completely different direction to the rest of the team. Yes, they are busy, but far too often busy doing the wrong things.

This, however, is where world class teams are different. No one is questioning that everyone else wants good results and outcomes. That statement is almost a given for any competitive team. The difference, however, is that world class teams understand that to achieve getting the oars to hit the water with unity, precision, timing, and direction requires excellent leadership, focused effort and attention.

So how is this achieved?

  • Build a cohesive leadership team that is absolutely crystal clear on its vision and mission and sets out very clear priorities for going about achieving these objectives. The bottom line is everyone is on the same page and can quickly and clearly articulate what they are about and what they are doing to achieve these outcomes. NOTE: This should not curtail or discourage innovative ideas and creative thinking taking place. The key is to utilise these skills to support and enhance the ongoing work towards the key objectives.

  • Invest heavily in leadership and personal development for your team members. Continually grow and develop your people – they are without question your biggest asset.

  • Clearly inform all team members of the key priorities and objectives on a continuous basis. Develop excellent checking systems to regularly review work and priorities whilst at the same time ensuring you remain open to feedback and further input by maintaining a sense of both flexibility and agility.

  • Continually communicate your priorities and objectives. Strategic drift and slippage can occur quickly so if anything, never be afraid to OVER communicate and clarify your priorities and objectives.

  • Test your assumptions. Have an independent person select team members and leaders from time to time to query the clarity on tasks and priorities. Much like a secret shopper, this can give you quick and important feedback with regards to how well things are understood and being implemented.

Allocate resources in line with your priorities. Whilst this may sound obvious it helps further communicate stated objectives. If certain resources, equipment or funding are not available then those activities will be far more difficult to complete.

World class individuals, teams and organisations operate like a flock of geese in flight, that is, they are well organised and work in a synchronised fashion knowing that this is the most efficient and effective method to travel to the desired destination as a group.

Geese do not take chances when it comes to deciding what function each member will have when they are flying in formation. All of them are clear on their roles and responsibilities and how these contribute to the overall plan, priorities and targets being set. For the flock of geese this level of clarity extends to the point whereby when one of the flock is injured or becomes tired other geese will drop back to assist by doing the harder work of leading and making a slip stream to assist the tired or injured bird to fly with less effort.

In essence then, leading in a straight line is about setting clear priorities whilst remaining flexible and making sure you have a cohesive leadership team that is communicating this message so it becomes the focus of everyone on the team.

Yes, challenges and obstacles will crop up but… your ability to stay on course rather than stray off course will be far greater because you are crystal clear on the tasks you are doing and how they are contributing to the direction you are heading.

Greg Muller is a premier leadership and elite performance coach.

He has trained and worked throughout the world under many of the worlds best leadership and performance coaches.

For more information about his products and services please go to

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