Who is in charge of your business? Leaders, if you don’t act daily as a calm, assertive, caring captain, your “ship” – your enterprise – may go astray.

Every business needs a captain, a person that sets the stage for all actions that take place. If you, as leader, do not set the stage by defining and aligning practices to clear performance standards and values expectations, people will be left to “figure it out on their own.”

When people “figure it out on their own,” you end up with widely varying practices – not aligned, proven practices. That lack of clarity and alignment erodes consistent performance, service, and results.

Whether you are the captain of a cruise ship, a call center, a flower shop, or any other type of business team, you need to guide your team proactively.

How do you do that? An effective, inspiring captain first creates and communicate the team’s plan, then implements the plan through role modeling, coaching, and celebrating progress daily.

First, you must craft your plan. What should your plan include? All of the vital elements are easily found in an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal statement of your team or company’s present day purpose (its reason for being), values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

An organizational constitution is a crisp and simple declaration of your team’s desired destination as well as defining how people are expected to behave and treat others along the way.

Your purpose and values are strategic elements that don’t change much over time. The more tactical elements – valued behaviors, strategies, and goals – will likely evolve as your business evolves, as markets evolve, as customer needs change, etc.

Then, you must model and coach the plan. Setting the plan is step one. Communicating the plan is step two. The real work happens with implementing the plan – steps three through one hundred!

Announcing the plan doesn’t guarantee that team members will embrace it. The captain’s role and responsibility is to model the plan and to coach the plan, every day.

An effective captain doesn’t simply communicate the plan then sit in his or her office, studying spreadsheets or answering emails all day. An effective captain reinforces the plan by being on the move, observing how the team is interacting and operating, moment to moment.

A cruise ship’s captain spends time on the bridge, ensuring that the team there is in tune with each other, with the ship’s power plant, with the direction the ship is moving, etc. The captain also spends time observing team members interacting with passengers and with each other, validating aligned team member behaviors and redirecting misaligned ones.

You must do the same. You must be visible, present, and engaged, every day.

The only way that team members can be assured that they understand the plan and are aligned to the plan is by the captain’s calm, assertive modeling and coaching of the plan.

How much time will it take each week for you to effectively model and coach player’s practices to your organizational constitution? Spend at least an hour a day and work yourself up to two hours a day.

Your team deserves nothing less from you than a calm, assertive, caring hand on the tiller of your enterprise.

What do you think? How have your best bosses “captained” your team or department in the past? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © dvoevnore – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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