Where Do We Go From Here?

February 1, 2016

What happens after a big win? For all the focus (and press) directed at planning and executing, what comes next?

Whether your team has achieved a significant goal or is looking to get back on track after a shake-up, here are some basic ways to get everyone back on course.

Identify the Next Horizon

Once your team has reached a goal and the celebration is over (you do celebrate big wins, right?), there can be a bit of an empty feeling. What’s next, everyone wonders. If you’re not careful, you can rely on a past victory to define your team when what you really need is a new goal. Not all new goals are equal. Some are highly visible and broadly applicable. Others are just next steps. Don’t discriminate. Choose the appropriate next step to focus your team.

Reinvent Continuously

The speed of change continues to accelerate, which means what worked yesterday may not work today. It’s becoming much more difficult to duplicate past wins. On one hand, setting off in a new direction provides the opportunity to break down your operation and processes into small parts and identify improvements for each one. On the other hand, it’s important to be aware of the potential necessity to throw out your whole business model and chart a new course.

Remember, it’s far easier to change on your own terms than to wait until you have no other option.

Get Back to the Basics

Every year when the Green Bay Packers began training camp, the late head coach Vince Lombardi would gather the team together with a football in hand and remind them, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” It didn’t matter whether the Packers had just won a championship the year before (as they often had). After Easy Company captured Adolf Hitler’s famous Eagle’s Nest in WWII, Major Winters had his troops perform routine training exercises until they were sent back home. Once we’ve tasted success, it’s tempting to become lax on the fundamentals. But without them, the victories aren’t possible.

Engage Your People

No time is ever the wrong time to engage your people. But in the moments following a success or preceding a new initiative, take extra care to ensure a strong connection. Make sure your folks know they are appreciated, but are also keenly aware of how their work connects to the mission of the organization. Don’t just tell them once, tell them over and over again. Give rewards and promotions where due. And if organizational change is part of the equation, take special pains upfront to address how their daily work experience will transition.

In The Art of Leadership, Max de Pree says, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” That’s great advice to keep in mind in times of transition as well as (rare) times of stability.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his new ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website  or follow him on Twitter.