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To Give Teams Direction, Create a "Commander's Intent"

This approach gives staff a clear sense of a task's importance

A few weeks ago, I opened a post with a story about one of my favorite questions for leaders, “What is it that only you can do?” Since then, I’ve asked that question again in one of my last keynotes of the year and got an answer back that was so clear and succinct that I just had to share it with you.

The answer I received back from an executive in the room is actually the title of this post, “Great leaders give direction, not directions.” I loved that not just for the clever play on words but also because it’s true. I believe it so much that I wrote a whole chapter on the topic in my book, The Next Level. The chapter title is Pick Up Defining What to Do; Let Go of Telling How to Do It.”

In other words, give direction, not direction. In the military, they describe this approach as Commander’s Intent. If you want to see a great example of that, take a look at the letter that former Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps four-star general Jim Mattis wrote to his Marines the day before they crossed the Line of Departure in the 2003 Iraq War.

Please select this link to read the complete blog post from The Eblin Group. 

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