What is the most surprising question in the mind of a Leader?

John Greenway, Leaders’ Map

Having coached many top executives I have found that a question they constantly grapple with is, “What is my job?”

Understandably you might ask, if they don’t know what they are doing then why are they there?

They know they are a CEO or a Sales Director etc, they have their goals and job description, (but not always!) so what is the problem?

The more senior your position, and particularly in the top job, the less prescribed it is. It becomes more complex and ambiguous. Why is that?

Circumstances change! If your career has moved along the continuum from Expert to Manager to Leader you will be very aware that life does not go in a straight line. Winds come, waves rise and mist drifts in. What seemed quite clear, suddenly changes ….including your role! Your job was to “join up the dots”, but now somebody has moved the dots around or even stolen some of them!

There are a couple of contrasting ways in which you can simplify the complexity.

Firstly, there is the Woody Allen approach. Woody remarked, “I need to be focused on something, so that I don’t see the big picture.”

It is a natural reaction to revert to what you can feel safe and sure with. You can go back to doing what you know best…being an expert or acting as the manager again. The trouble is that you start doing the job that you are paying others to do. Why buy a dog and bark yourself?

Alternatively, you can burn away some of the mist! Take time to get good visibility of your line of direction. Get your compass out to check that you are staying true to your values. Be honest about your current position. Be optimistic about the opportunities and pessimistic about the risks. Crystalise your goals so that they are specific and achievable. Work out the next three steps.

It will be invaluable to get input from people you trust and engage those who are going with you on the journey. They will want to be participators and not passengers, if not then shouldn’t be wearing the “Crew” shirt. Suddenly (over time!) alignment will be stronger and engagement will increase.

To help you we have we have created a simple, but powerful, Q&A format as part of the Leaders’ Map App. It will help you work out what shouldn’t change, what is likely to change and what you should do about it.

To find out more please view two short videos:
Leaders’ Map Concept:
Leaders’ Map User Guide: