EYES ON THE BUSINESS OF YOU: Are Four I’s Better than Two?
I have talked a lot about strategy, including having a 10-year plan and clarity about what is important. But I was challenged on this at a women’s networking function I hosted recently. The question was: isn’t a linear 10-year plan too rigid, going against all my ideas about allowing for new thinking and looking out for opportunities?
Good question! The answer is: a 10-year plan doesn’t need to be rigid. Mine is more of a vision – a compass that guides me in the direction I want to be going without dictating where I might detour for a bit or recalibrate the way I get there.
This compass is important for keeping me on track and, like a regular compass, it has four key points – not north, south, east and west, but the Four I’s.
These I’s keep us connected to our vision. They also help us understand how others are seeing us. We have already looked at how we need others to help us progress on our path to success, but we also need to keep a close eye – dare I say it, Four I’s? – on how people in our team, organisation, industry, peer group, country, region or the world (including customers and business prospects) are viewing us.
I’s on the prize
These are the Four I’s that help to guide us to success.
Impact: Do you think about the impact you have on others in your team, your organisation and even your industry? As leader of others, and also of our own businesses, we need to consider our image, and how our behaviour, language and attitude affects others. This is not about changing who we are, but about understanding how others react to us and knowing if and how we might modify our behaviour and approach to get the best results.
Intention: We can all be guilty of drifting along without intention, especially if we are comfortable in our zone. That’s OK if you are exactly where you want to be. But my guess is most people aren’t. This is why we need to focus energy on reaching goals that align with our strategies and values. I consider we can all achieve a level of success simply by being in the right place at the right time – perhaps being one of the fortunate people who has or had a great mentor in their career/business when it mattered. I believe there is a natural ceiling to how much success we can reach under our own steam and to unlock the next level requires a plan, intent and usually coaching, advisory and mentoring from others.
Influence: What platform do you command? It doesn’t have to be a physical platform, such as a stage, a lectern or even a soap box. It’s the platform of people who watch, listen and are perhaps guided by you. You don’t need to be a performer as such but look for any of the many ways you can put yourself in a position as a thought leader, a voice for your industry or a beacon to drive a passion project.
Ideas & Innovation: OK, this is technically two I’s in one but they’re so closely related they need to share a spot. This is about looking for the chance to challenge business processes and language with a refresh or reinvention of a product or service. You might ask how it’s possible to find the time and headspace to be creative when you’re stuck in the transactional nature of your business or role. The strategy is to remain open and alert to opportunity. We live in an explosive era, with innovation front and centre in every headline and every leadership meeting. Surprisingly, we are not idea-fatigued yet and ideas and innovation are everywhere we look …
… We just need to keep our eyes, or I’s, open.