Why Company Strategies are Like Family Vacations

Most companies have well-put-together strategies. They spend countless hours brainstorming, creating, refining and developing a comprehensive company strategy. The fact is, many times those company strategies never come to life.

The reason why that’s the fact is best explained if you think about family vacations. Most of us have been on a family vacation of some sort.

In my family we thoroughly plan our vacations. We choose the destination, pick our lodging, reserve airline tickets or plot out the highway routes, reserve certain days for sightseeing and activities and make all the necessary reservations far in advance. We plot out all aspects of the vacation just like a company in the midst of a comprehensive strategic planning process.

Then, once all the details are set, we get really excited about how much fun we are going to have on the vacation.


The Plan vs. Reality

Then when the family vacation finally comes, it looks like one of those Chevy Chase “Vacation” movies!

Some days are a complete disaster. Nobody’s happy. Oh sure, we have some fun, but it is nothing like those perfect, harmonious days we were dreaming about.

Why is that?

Is it because our planning was flawed? Is it because the strategy was bad? Is it because the theme park didn’t live up to the hype or the beach was closed?

No, it’s not because of any of those reasons.

Why then?

Personal behaviors. You know what I am talking about. People not getting their way. Kids fighting in the backseat. People getting on each other’s nerves and some throwing temper tantrums.


Grow Up!

It’s acceptable for young children to misbehave on vacation, because they haven’t grown up yet.  We let them slide because they are still learning how to properly express and rationalize their feelings.

Company strategies fall apart for the same reason: Personal behaviors. You might call it professionalism. You know what I am talking about. It is not acceptable for us grownups to behave in a way that is detrimental to the organization. We cannot let ourselves slide, and as leaders, we cannot let others slide at the expense of the organization.

I go into companies and see the same childish behaviors we have all experienced on family vacations derailing company strategies. People at work act like kids in the back seat on vacation. It’s those personal behaviors that matter.  Some people call these behaviors the “soft skills.” I call them the real skills, because they are the skills that matter the most: effective communication, positive attitude, humility, teamwork, adaptability, flexibility and of course, leadership.

Before you can contribute to or lead a group, you must be able to lead yourself.  And that means working on yourself and improving yourself, so you can be a contributor and not a distractor.


We Can’t All Be Children

Take a moment and think of a time that you noticed someone you work with displaying a childish behavior.  Now think of a time that you might have done the same.

I believe the cause of this sort of behavior is a blind spot. Maybe we have not yet recognized when we have a professional development opportunity. Maybe we just aren’t deliberate enough about working on ourselves.

You have to be able to lead yourself before you can lead others. Leaders are learners, and they don’t just take time to learn about the nuts and bolts of the business. Leaders learn about themselves and their blind spots, and then attack them to improve their personal behaviors and professionalism.

Strategy is important in a company, so it’s necessary to rise above bad behavior to accomplish what you set out to do as an organization.

If you’re going to take your company to the next level and transform into a national player, you need to be able to execute the strategy. For that, you must have the right personal behaviors.


How We Grow Up

Individual transformation paves the way to company transformation. When you make a conscious decision to change your personal behaviors, your example will affect others and spread throughout the organization. Personal development, improvement and evolution must occur before a company can achieve its goals.

That’s why I speak about developing yourself a little at a time, every day.

Don’t ruin the vacation or derail the company strategy. Take the time today for self-development and leadership development.


Wondering Where to Start?

Surround yourself with good leadership material. Sign up for leadership blogs, podcasts, videos and newsletters, along with reading a few good books. Take eight minutes a day—every day, at the same time each day—to invest in some leadership knowledge. Spend time with your favorite leadership material from the experts you choose. Write down what you take away from it and put the note in a place you will see it often.

You can find these great leadership resources yourself, or you can use my list.Just drop me a note, and I will send you “Doug’s Top 10 Great Leadership Resources” for free.


Bonus: Check out my new book, “Must Be Present To Win.”

Perhaps somebody in your life needs to hear this message.

It can transform your effectiveness at home and at work.

It can magnify your influence.

It can change lives, including your own.

Add my book to your reading list.