Develop your Leadership Team Approach to ‘Where we are going’

by | May 9, 2024 | Brand Expression, Business planning, Corporate culture

“The power of language and the need to – with great intention – articulate what you believe, what your non-negotiables are, what your core values are… (you need to) come up with these short, succinct little ways to articulate what you’re trying to achieve. It’s important for everyone in the company to be rowing in the same direction.”

– Will Guidara, former GM & Co-Owner of Eleven Madison Park, named #1 on the world’s top restaurants list 2017; Author of Unreasonable Hospitality

In this episode of The Entrepreneur’s Studio podcast, well-known hospitality and business leader Will Guidara powerfully describes the crucial role of the leader in setting the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of the business vision, then intentionally handing the ownership over to the team to decide on the ‘how’. He famously created the team function of ‘Dreamweaver’ and held strategy days involving the entire team, no matter what their role – in fact, he felt the individual on the ground, who sees all, has the most to give to strategic planning to make the vision work.

Today in a workshop on leading Brand and Culture, I asked leaders, “What is always front of mind for you, when leading your team?”

I wanted to know:

  • Have they developed an overt approach to how they lead?
  • Do they have a saying, motto or other touchstone that they use to guide and inspire their teams?
  • Have they chosen specific language to powerfully engage team members on purpose, vision and values?
  • Do teams have a daily felt sense of ‘where we are going’, and their meaningful contribution to that?

A leader’s job in figuring all this out is certainly not easy. While leaders usually have a strong sense of what they are trying to achieve, the problem I sometimes see is that leaders don’t have clarity on how to tell that story, or – more often – how to unite as a group of leaders in telling that story.

“Change happens in a team huddle.” – Will Guidara

Whether you work with a strongly resourced internal or external communications team to create collective and individual leader communication plans, or you huddle together as a group of leaders to figure out where you align on the important stuff to get across (and how you will do that)… joining forces to speak the same language and walk the same talk creates powerful change energy!

When it comes to leading Brand and Culture – including Purpose, Vision, Values and Strategy – it’s not a binary ‘Top-down’ v ‘Bottom-up’ approach. As Guidara suggests, lead your WHY and WHAT (your Purpose and Vision) from the top, but involve everyone in the HOW (your Values and your Strategy in particular, but also in creating Team Identities around how each team contributes… here’s how to do that). This will mean your ‘Where we are going’ is not just yours, but ours.

But first… huddle and work out what you will communicate as a leadership team to intentionally lead in the same direction.