This cycle outlines the key steps every leader needs to make in order to achieve success. The cycle has five main areas; Vision, Goal Setting, Game Planning, Working, and Seeking Counsel. “Repeatedly rotating through the Cycle of Achievement compels the leader to grow in ability, understanding, experience, discernment, and wisdom.”
The Cycle of Achievement begins with vision. Leaders must have wisdom of where they desire to take themselves and their organization. A leader’s vision comes from the picture of a dream in their mind. “We don’t get what we want, or what we deserve, we get what we picture.”
A leader’s vision can not be arbitrary, it must be directed at something specific. “Without specific goals at which to direct energies and ambitions, all efforts will be wandering generalities at best.” Leaders set goals using specific techniques to develop such goals. There are nine foundational principles that must be combined to make a goal worth achieving.
- Goals must be Specific
- Goals must be Written
- Goals must be Set in Stone
- Goals must be Measurable
- Goals must be Realistic
- Goals must Provide Motivation
- Goals must be in Line with Priorities and Values
- Goals must be Prominent
- Goals must have a Specific Time Period
After goal setting, but before work starts, there is another step that leads directly to the accomplishment of the goal; formulating a game plan. “A game plan is a leader’s strategy or map, it provides guidance towards the goal.” Like Goal Setting, Game Planning has a few certain aspects that will help leaders make more effective game plans and therefore hit their goals.
- Game Plans are set in sand: the game plan must be fluid, adaptable to changing conditions, and able to be scraped at a moment’s notice if its not working.
- Game plans drive the prioritization of tasks: without the prioritization of tasks the leader will spend time on things that are “good” to do or even “great” to do, but not “best” to do.
- Game plans are developed at the macro, mini, and micro levels: the macro level is the overall top layer, the issues that will have the biggest impact for a given task. The mini level is just below macro, where issues are smaller and not quite as important. The micro level is the tiniest, detail level where the issues are the smallest. When a leader understands these levels, they know exactly where to focus to have the highest impact on reaching the goal.
- Game plans are best when effective thinking is used first: When drawing up a game plan, the leader must ask “what are the major dominoes that will knock all the others down?” Effective thinking leads to a proper game plan that prevents the common mistake of working on dominoes that don’t knock any others down.
The third component of the Cycle of Achievement is “Working”. When applied to a leader, the term “working” encompasses several categories. Each of these is necessary in the daily actions of a leader to produce effectiveness. There are many areas that leaders have to work in to ensure that the organization understands what they are working towards to ensure effectiveness.
- Working: Casting the Vision. The whole cycle of achievement begins with vision, but that vision must be cast and recast before the organization to make sure everybody is working in unison and understands the overall picture.
- Working: Leading by Example. A true leader sets the example with his or her actions on a daily basis.
- Working: Demonstrating a Strong Work Ethic. True leadership is being willing to live down in the trenches where the action is and do whatever is necessary.
- Working: Taking Responsibility. Leaders take responsibility for their actions and for their decision. Taking responsibility means holding oneself to a standard of results.
- Working: Orchestrating and Aligning Resources. A true leader assumes responsibility for orchestrating and aligning resources. This involves equipping others or making sure that they are adequately managing resources. The best leadership team in the world cannot function if it runs out of what it requires to operate.
- Working: Solving Problems and Removing Obstacles. Leaders anticipate problems or obstacles that will impede plans so they can be solved and removed before negative consequences result.
- Working: Searching for Opportunities. It is the job of the leader to seek and identify opportunities and help the organization take advantage of them.
- Working: Being Consistent. Since the actions of a leader are the example for the organization, consistency of temperament and performance is a must. Leaders must be who they are on a constant basis.
- Working: Maintaining Focus. A leader must be like a magnifying glass, focusing all of his or her efforts upon the main points or priorities.
- Working: Staying Persistent. Leaders must recognize that they must hang in there and continue the fight even when all seems lost because many times, victory is just around the corner.
- Working: Striving Ahead of the Group. Leaders must exert a “pull” on their organizations with the strength of their own performance. This is the opposite of “pushing” an organization. Managers push, leaders pull.
- Working: Giving Praise and Recognition. Leaders specialize in catching people in the act of doing things right, and they don’t hesitate to lavish praise.
- Working: Providing Guidance and Course Correction. An effective leader or coach helps people go places they want to go but are unable to reach on their own. To do this they provide guidance and direction.
“Experience is not the best teacher; other people’s experience is the best teacher”. For this reason, every leader must seek out and find credible mentorship
- A leader seeks counsel to learn: Leaders know they always have more to learn, the greatest leaders are also the greatest learners.
- A leader seeks counsel to gain perspective: Properly defining a problem, with the correct perspective, is by far the biggest component in finding the solution. Often leaders are simply too close to a situation. They struggle with it and fight it but lose the overall perspective that a mentor can provide.
- A leader seeks counsel to make mid-course corrections: Even when a leader is clear on the objectives and implements a well-thought-out game plane, things can go awry. When these issues occur, mentors can provide invaluable insights into changes in the game plan that will still allow for the attainment of the goal.
- A leader seeks counsel to receive feedback: It can be difficult at times to know if progress is being made toward overall objectives. Mentors slice through the confusion and clarify the picture, providing the leader with clear feedback on his or her performance.
- A leader seeks counsel to be held accountable for results: When results are lacking for one reason or another, leaders hold themselves accountable to their mentors for improvement.
- A leader seeks counsel to grow personally: Mentors are there to provide guidance and place a continued emphasis on personal growth.
- A leader seeks counsel to earn respect: There is nothing better than earning the respect of someone who has been instrumental in teaching and guiding our own growth and success.
Seeking counsel is the last step in the Cycle of Achievement, but leadership does not end there. A true leader starts over at vision again and keeps rotating through the cycle over and over to get a bigger vision, set new goals, make a better game plan, do more work and get more perspective from their mentor. There is no end-point in this cycle. One must keep rotating to gain more success.