In previous installments, I have been trying to challenge you to accept and use tension as a tool for establishing best practices. In addition, I have challenged you to use constant evaluation for ensuring the course of business is following the stated business plan. In this installment, I want to challenge and encourage you to recognize markers for ensuring integrity long after the business plan is established.
On the railroad project, the importance of this concept was evidenced in the need to set the rail in small units such that the shape and integrity of the track were established to carry the locomotive and passenger cars over the long haul. The project utilized spikes and spike plates every few feet to ensure the shape of the track was maintained. The project required the crew to think both short-term and long-term when securing the track. An outdoor track will experience a wide variety of weather and use conditions requiring each plate to hold its position and maintain the shape of the track. The same principle impacts effective business leadership.
Leadership requires individual and group markers to be established to ensure individual and organizational integrity long after the work is completed.
Tension created shape and shape allowed the crew to lay a course for the business of providing rides to tourists. A spacing tool ensured that our course was useful to the steam engine used to transport tourists from a loading zone back to the point of origination without disruption and injury. The final aspect of constructing the track reflecting leadership related to how the track was held in the designated shape long after the project was completed. In other words, getting the rail to the desired shape was only one part of the process. After the crew got it to the desired shape, there needed to be a method to hold it in place long after the crew left the premises.
The crew used spikes and spike plates to achieve the desired outcome. Spikes were driven into plates that stretched over the bottom of the rail. Placing these plates on both sides of the rail allowed us to ensure that movement of the track would not occur. Establishing foundational shape is required because, if the tension on the rail weakened, the rail would return to a state of homeostasis – straight.
Driving spikes requires some level of talent, but it was vital for the crew to ensure the rail maintained shape under all conditions. The crew worked to ensure that rail ties were solid, the spikes were completely driven into place, and spikes were spaced appropriately so as to maintain appropriate tension on the rail. Since we were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, consideration was exercised for extreme weather conditions applicable to the area.
Leadership requires a similar type of action. Organizational and individual leadership require markers similar to spike plates, which hold practices in place given internal and external influences upon the organization or individual. Ensuring that the right kind of foundation is in place and the track of business is secure provides assurance business practices produce the desired result. Choosing the right position for business markers is half of the process. Individual leaders and organizations also need to utilize proper mechanisms to secure the track of business to prevent derailment.
Check back here next week and I will tie all of this together and provide some closing thoughts. Don’t let this “train of thought” leave the station without you!