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A Focused Team Drives 65 With Eyes on the Road

Focused Team – Eyes on the Road

In virtually any field, you can succeed with your team if you focus on group process goals and “Drive 65.”  Let me explain…

Road trips always take longer when I travel with my family.  But it is always more interesting, entertaining, and memorable when I am with them instead of driving alone.

When my family would pile into our Dodge Durango for a road trip, at least one of our kids would invariably ask “how long until we get there?”

My stock answer would be “That depends on you guys!”

Sometimes they would want to stop for snacks. Sometimes we would need to stop for restroom breaks. The destination wouldn’t change, but sometimes we had to adjust our route to see or do something unexpected along the way that added time to our journey…

When we weren’t focused on the destination or getting to the next checkpoint on our map, it was much easier to get distracted by billboards or gas stations or other attractions.

And, because I am always looking for real-life examples of group dynamics as a team building speaker, it occurred to me that our road trips were much like the journey of any team.

Our family always had a destination, just like every great team starts with a compelling common goal.

But, as the “family leader,” I needed to do a better job of selling the vision of our destination – or at least the next checkpoint on our map – if I wanted them to be excited enough about it to forgo the superfluous stops we often made.

Each of our family members in the vehicle either contributed to our getting there “on time and under budget,” or they were part of the reason that we would arrive much later than planned and with a little less in our bank account.

As a team leader, your first job is to decide on a destination and get the right people on your “team bus.”  But unlike a family road trip or vacation, where the consequences of delays or budget or focus on a destination are usually insignificant, your organization’s success depends on the interactions and contributions of the people on your “team bus.”

Reaching your destination depends on their focused contributions and cohesive efforts.

So to get to your destination, I encourage you to “Drive 65.”

But while it is important to keep that vision in mind, you need to focus on the process goals that will get you there!

Steve Jobs was unpopular at Apple when he first returned after his absence because he cancelled a number of very interesting projects that Apple employees had begun.  In Job’s vision, those efforts were not contributing to the “team bus” reaching his defined corporate destination.  So he drove the bus where it needed to go by driving his people to give their attention to projects that would have the greatest impact on moving Apple closer to that vision.

Are your people being distracted from your vision?  See the squirrel?

Many times your attention is diverted from the long-term goal if there is no sixty day goal to focus on as that “next step.” Other things always pop up and can steal away your team’s enthusiasm and focus.

Keep your five-year vision in front of your team, and recognize that your sixty day goals are where the majority of your energy and efforts need to be invested.

You need to “drive” your team to remain laser-focused on that next sixty day goal.  Check items off the list as you move forward, and celebrate small victories along the way instead of waiting to share praise or recognition for their efforts until the end of the journey.

A team provides the skills and relationships that make a lengthy journey both possible and worthwhile. It is true that “If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, travel with a TEAM.”  As a leader, your ability to “Drive 65” and influence people to buy into a five-year vision while focusing efforts on sixty day process goals will be the key to reaching your destination.

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