University of Great Britain and Ireland. Jul 3 2007.
Leading to Success
Written especially for the new cabinet of this region and dedicated to Leg-ends, Esperantania and Harshhaven of ACCEL, whose hard work, responses and attitudes have inspired much of this work.
Its what every leader wants: the one chance that you grab with both hands, when all seems lost but somehow, almost miraculously, things turn round and the department, region or alliance you are leading becomes more successful than ever before. Its what has happened and is continuing to happen in ACCEL as I write this. In this article I will share the three key points I have learned as Secretary of Administrative Affairs and Secretary General in that great alliance. These are the three things you need to lead to success.
- Own a Big, Specific Vision
Where there is no vision, the people perish Proverbs 29:18a
The reason that 9 out of 10 regions fail is for lack of vision. Those who run the region may have general goals like “have lots of members” or create lots of embassies but there is no specific picture of what the region should be like and where it is going.
Two departments in ACCEL show the difference between having a specific and general vision. The Department of Trade and National Sovereignty was created, in part, to give our UN work more freedom and space. This meant that part of its brief was to keep the ACCEL agenda at the forefront of the UN by repealing unsuitable legislation and getting better legislation passed. This specific vision has meant that this is the on department which has kept going no matter what is happening elsewhere. The people who work there have a passion for what they do and do it with excellence.
When I started working in the department of Administrative Affairs, the story was very different. While there was some acknowledgement that the department was there to recruit for the alliance and do some internal work, there was little enthusiasm about its mission. Morale was low and staffing was almost non-existent. When I got the job, I decided that I wanted the department to have a specific vision. I immediately decided that the job of the department was, first and foremost, to get people into the alliance either from alliance members or by recruiting. From then on, I organised the department round that. What happened was the gradually, as people began to get excited about the vision too, we saw more new faces in the department. The current Secretary, Esperantania, also has this vision and his passion is infectious.
You see, its not enough to have a vague idea of where you want to go. No-one gets passionate about vague ideas or stabs in the dark. You need a clear, detailed vision of where you want to go and you need to own it. What does that mean? It means you need to be passionate enough about it that you are ready and willing to organise what you do around the vision. Think the vision, talk the vision, work the vision. When you are so passionate about it that it rubs off on others, then you really own it.
- Have a clear strategy
Having a vision without a strategy is like having the name of a destination without a map. A vision tells you where you are going, a strategy says how you will get there.
Going back to the Administrative Affairs example, the first strategy that was developed was in recruiting. It was nearly a vision in itself. During the election I said that one of my major goals as SoAA would be to have surveyed every region in the game to see whether they would be potential ACCEL members and, if they were, to have telegrammed them.
Very few people believed it was possible but I realised that in order to actually get recruitment to work, we had to target the regions we had previously missed. Needless to say such a project took a lot of work and even needed sub-strategies for how it would be organised but it did work. First The Great Commonwealth, then Esperantania and now Land of Midgets have either led the trawl or have led the effort in analysing the results. It has led to new members of one sort or another but, more importantly, it has achieved the greater departmental goal of bringing more people to the alliance.
- Influence people to catch the Vision
John C Maxwell says that a leader without followers is just a man going for a walk. If you are going to really change things, you arent going to do it by yourself. You must have the passion and influence to be able to draw people into the vision and allow them to see their place.
As I wrote in my article on influence, influence is greater than power and it takes, influence, not power to drive a vision forwards. This means that, as a leader, you need to be able to locate the greatest influencers in your organisation and try to get them passionate first.
This is a skills I am still learning in ACCEL. As SG, I have lots of ideas and plans that I want to see succeed but, in order for them to work, the directorate needs to agree. There are certain members of the directorate whose opinions, by virtue of their experience or talent, carry more weight than others. It is these embers that I need to convince first. There are also one or two other members, who, while not directors are recognised as wise heads and, in some ways, they carry even more weight than the influential directors. It is to these people that I take my best ideas. If they like it and will support it, it is a winner.
There is one more group of people who I talk to before I cast the vision generally. This is the group of people who every leader loves, they are those who have supported me for a long-time and are always ready to help. It is also very fortunate that members of this group are also in the groups I mentioned above. To these people I come with my early drafts and half-ideas. Not only are there members of this group, like Leg-ends, who are excellent at sorting the wheat from the chaff and helping me develop my half-ideas, but there are members, like Esperantania and Leg-ends (again) who I can rely on for an honest opinion and who I would go to for advice. I know that with these people helping me and supporting me, I have people who can catch a vision and run with it. Once they get it and it spreads, things begin to happen.
If you get the vision, the strategy and the influence, you will find that success will naturally follow. You will also have fulfilled one more criteria. You will have valued and invested in people. That is possibly the best thing that you can do in this, or any other game. And it is the only way that you will leave a lasting legacy.