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Leaders, Take the Helm!

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Blog Number One in Leadership Series

Leaders, Take the Helm!


Hello everyone and welcome to my first blog in the Leadership Series.  Perhaps you already enjoyed my blog on winning loyal customers.   I have been teaching leadership for over thirty years, all around the world.  It is simply the greatest “force multiplier” that can make or break any organization, from families to corporations.

In this blog I will present the model I am using in my book which will be released later this year: Leaders Do Five Things: Taking the Helm in a Turbulent World. 


Consider your organization as if it is a ship sailing along in sometimes calm but often turbulent waters. The ship is your organization, whether a family a team or a small or large company. The crew of the ship is your staff or others whose every day actions affect the functioning of the ship and influence its culture. The passengers of the ship are your customers, clients, vendors, or members who choose to join you in your journey for a purpose. That purpose should be the basis of your mission and your vision and your values and how you measure success. 


Ideally, but rarely, your ship sails smoothly along, successfully hitting each goal and arriving at each port until it achieves your main goals. But storms arise that can blow your ship off target or cause you to reroute. The culture of your ship effects the behavior of your crew. 


Our job as a leader is to have a firm but gentle hand on the helm. People look to us for strength and guidance and inspiration and they want to trust both our character and competence. They want to feel confident and assured that our hand is on the helm.


The model is illustrated in the picture below. The helm of the ship has five major handles and a center axis, trust, which holds the helm in place and around which the other five actions rotate. 


Let me briefly explain the helm model and then go in more depth in successive blogs. 


The first and one of the most important roles is to Envision. A leader guides the organization in creating a very clear vision, mission, values, and measures of success driven through a consequential strategic plan. This becomes the North Star. All further actions and decisions must be made in alignment with this overarching and inspiring purpose. 


Once we have this clearly in place, we must then Enroll people. Each of our “crewmembers” is a four-part being. We all have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components, and each one of these can and must be enrolled and inspired in the vision. 


Now all of us must be Enabled. In fact, it is very frustrating for people to feel excited by the vision and enrolled in it but are then disabled by the lack of resources or training or a myriad of other things which they need to carry out the vision and strategy. 


Once people have the vision and are enrolled in it and are mostly or fully enabled, we can now Engage them. It is difficult to engage people who lack the first three elements. But I have found that if the first three or firmly in place very little needs to be done to engage them. They will actively and creatively figure things out and self-release their own potential. 


Finally, we need everyone in the organization to actively and continuously Explore new and better ways to carry out the vision and strategy. Exploring does not belong only to the role of senior leaders and managers. Remember that no matter how well our organization is going if we are not continually exploring new horizons and new ways to do business or new products, we may find our ship dead in the water or torpedoed by your competition! 


But finally, what happens to the helm of a ship if the axis breaks? In fact, the axis of the wheel may be the most important part of the assembly. In our analogy, trust is that axis. Stephen MR Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust, writes that trust is the one thing that changes everything. Trust exists in both the people and the systems. In high trust systems everything moves faster and cheaper as Covey writes. A well lubricated axis that is constantly monitored and maintained enables the helm to move smoothly and effectively. 


I can can set up a free survey that goes out to all your staff and measures how they assess the five parts of the helm.  Do they have the vision, are they enrolled, enabled and engaged?  Are they actively exploring new and better ways to do business?


I hope this first blog in the series intrigues you and you can look forward to more blogs addressing each of the parts of the Helm.


Find out more about VisionBound on our website,  You can also email me at [email protected]