Did you know that for every single degree a plane flies off course, it will miss its target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile it flies? That amounts to about 1 mile off target for every 60 miles flown.

1 mile off target for every 60. Think about that.

On a single flight around the earth, 1 degree off would result in you missing your landing site by 500 miles. You planned to land in sunny Paris for lunch and find yourself in Bradford.  Just think about that……

Now imagine in your business the impact of each individual having a 1-degree variation in their understanding of the critical business outcomes and objectives. Could your organisation handle everyone being 500 miles off target and have everyone landing in very different places?

This week we were facilitating a Global Project Team at a leading pharmaceutical company and they realised they were not clear on their direction of travel. They each had different variations on what was their true North. If the team had been trekking in the hills, this would mean they would all have started walking off in different directions and ended up in very different watering holes. In the business, this meant that each member of the project team was about to put effort and energy into very different activities and would have ended up achieving lots of small things which may or may not have helped the business.

Being clear at the outset where you are trying to get to is about having a compelling vision for your company and department. Your map and compass is your plan and strategy, the work-streams and priorities are the steps you need to take to get there.

Accurate navigation takes knowledge, skill and time, it won’t happen by accident, so spending time building a compelling direction of travel is essential. It can also bring you back on course if you see you are going wrong but you must stay aware and vigilant. You must notice you are ‘off course’. Knowing your true North can help you make tough decisions by asking if this course of action takes us closer to our destination or does it take us off course?

At red10 one of our 9 dimensions of Leadership is Vision and, simply put, this is knowing your true North, setting the direction of travel and developing within your team the skills and confidence to get there. But you have to do the work at the beginning; you can’t assume people know where they are expected to go. In addition, when they have played a part in deciding the direction and destination, they feel motivated and compelled to get there. Newcomers need to be shown the direction of travel and asked for their perspective, people leaving the team may have valuable navigation advice to hand over before they go. Finally, never underestimate the importance of checking you are still ‘on course’ and restating the true North for the team.

What’s your team’s True North?