‘DIRECTION – Strategically & Professionally’

‘DIRECTION – Strategically & Professionally’

D. in the L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. Series

How fitting we kick off January’s blog with ‘Direction’.  We’ve probably all crafted our 2015 goals by now, terrific.  Have we crafted them though by first creating/articulating a future we truly want to live into?  Successful people didn’t get that way because they’re smarter or more fortunate, says Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., of Columbia University Business School. Truly successful people begin by envisioning the life they want. Then, they figure out how to make it happen.


Of the many phases within strategy development, Setting Direction is the boldest, juiciest and almost most rewarding.  It’s all about creating strategic clarity and answering the question “Where are we headed?”  The key element to answering that question is performing a ‘From – To’.  It asks ‘what are we going from/what’s our current state?’ and ‘what are we going toward/what’s our desired state?’  At all 3 levels – strategically, operationally and organizationally – the description of your desired state creates a clear picture of a compelling future state.  Furthermore, the direction of that future state implies the magnitude of change involved, resources necessary to make it happen, critical decisions to be considered and most importantly the key areas of focus/key priorities of the organization to achieve that future state.

Setting direction is the strategic linchpin – environmental analyses and SWOTs inform it, and from it the key strategic components are revealed.  Next time you’re having a strategic discussion, ask if there’s an articulation of your desired state/where you’re heading (and I’m not talking about a list of lagging indicators!)


When it comes to setting professional direction, I’m startled into action by remembering the saying “if you don’t design your career, someone else will”.  Too many of us think that if we’re attractive, smart, nice, or hard-working, our lives will magically turn out the way we want. But it’s hard to create the life you want if you never consciously imagine what that life looks like. So think about where you want to be in one, five, or 10 years, and write it down.  Create ‘meaty’ categories/ areas of proficiency you want, than map them against your timeline.  Begin 5 years out and work backward.  Your annual plan gets real clear, with your quarterly and monthly targets very obvious.  It’s amazing how many things get done with a sense of direction.

A few career truths as you’re being more deliberate and discerning in navigating your own career:

  • Opportunity is rarely convenient
  • Luck is not a strategy
  • Know your top 5 strengths – really know them, the impact they have, the results they get
  • You must be able and willing to sell yourself, your services and your ideas
  • Know yourself – it’s where it all starts

2015 is still young, there’s time to recalibrate and design a direction for yourself, not to mention a compelling future you want to live into.

I invite you to dream big.  Check out the website, and see how you can learn more and integrate it into your leadership.

Next month I look forward to sharing the E. of the L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. series – ‘Execute Flawlessly’’

~  Victoria Raymont