Line graphs display data changing continuously over time, but they do so by tracking static snapshots at regular intervals. We represent the progression of change by connecting the dots.
Within our organizations, we like to plan for the next dot, to make it land along the path toward our goal. This is a good way to ensure progress and track success, but it’s a poor way to lead people.
Your people don’t live at those dots. They live in the lines – the pieces we estimate because the fall between our snapshots of the businesses success.
Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. – Allen Saunders
As a leader, planning and tracking are likely a very real part of your job, and there’s a good chance that some of your people do the same. It’s easy to get caught up in those two pieces and then overuse popular management tactics for guiding your people to success. This is risky, because it makes it too easy to ignore the realities of what your people struggle with, hour by hour, to reach the goals you’ve set for them.
After all, drama is life with the dull bits cut out. – Alfred Hitchcock
Objectives and performance indicators are useful tools, but they can become a crutch. You have a lot on your plate, and your time is at a premium. Focusing solely on each incremental destination makes life easier, and it’s far less dull than tracking the pieces which are more difficult to quantify.
But those boring bits. The pieces which are difficult to quantify. The grind which gets your group to the next point on the graph. That’s where your people live.
If you aren’t making an effort to understand that part of the work, now is a good time to begin. Doing so will enable you to lead with compassion, foster loyalty, respond to roadblocks with more agility, and grow your people.