Leaders Paint Pictures


I love this quote from the French author and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”.

To me this says it all about leadership!

Too often, in my opinion, leaders get too caught up in plans, processes and results - none of which are to be ignored. But that is not what leadership is all about.

You manage plans, processes and results - you lead people!

Leadership is so much a right brained exercise. You engage people emotionally - I buy into a vision emotionally, not with the same approach I have to an Excel spreadsheet.

I was recently doing some research about project management for a client, and the research threw up some really interesting data.

PWC’s research with 10,000 projects in 200 different companies across 30 countries only 2.5% were fully completed - what a waste of resource that was.

HBR did other research on projects and the average overrun was 27% - how costly is that!

In both pieces of research the primary cause of failure was --? yes, you guessed it! - individual engagement!

What is the primary role of a leader? To engage their people in understanding and living the vision! So, the project failure is directly linked to the failure of leadership!

If a leader does not carve out time in their schedule to talk openly and freely about the vision, mission and values, then who will “…..teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”? No one!

So, Ann, if you have not made time today to talk to your people about the vision, then what are you doing that fulfills  your role as a leader?

Don’t leave it till tomorrow - because it won’t happen! 

John A Murphy


John Murphy has been running his own consultancy business, John Murphy International, for over 10 years.

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