The Value of Quick Victories

“When doing battle, seek a quick victory. A protracted battle will blunt weapons and dampen ardor.”
–Sun-tzu

 

 

 

 

Today I briefed my immediate management, with my team in attendance, on our near-term strategy for work in mission operations in Houston.  I view today as one of those “quick victories” I’ve read about but haven’t really fully embraced as being important – until now.  My team and I received compliments about how much we’ve achieved in such a short time and about the quality of our work.  (One of our techniques is being shared with others as a model to emulate, but I digress.)  Really, it is a tribute to the dedication of the team to the task at hand.  My team members are the ones who have to live with the consequences of whatever strategy we put into place – I do not – and they have bought into the vision we established in the beginning, took ownership of the process and methods necessary to define a strategy, and put together a wonderful and compelling story about why our proposed approach offers the best potential value to the Government and the American taxpayer.  One of the managers pulled me aside afterwards out of earshot of the rest and had one simple phrase specifically for me: “excellent leadership.”

I was extremely flattered.  That sure felt good!

Today was a lesson in the value of a quick victory.  In earlier posts, I referenced a leadership model built upon alignment, action, and results.  What would happen if a team had initial alignment, took action, and yet worked and worked without achieving a measurable result?  I suspect the effort would fall apart.  Clearly, without a tangible result the team would wonder, “are we taking the right actions?”  If new actions were undertaken with no tangible result, eventually the team would wonder, “Why are we doing this?”, leading to a breakdown in alignment and a complete unraveling of the team.

One of the elements of leadership is identifying quick victories that reinforces the team’s alignment.  Achieving quick victories through an incremental approach becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop, leading to more actions that lead to more results, and so on and so on.  Eventually, the end result is achieved.

Before, for those efforts in which I truly believe, I would have searched for that optimal path straight to the end result.  Because I’m so doggone determined, I would have put my nose to the grindstone and worked and worked come hell or high water until the end result was achieved, even if I left a wake of destruction in my path.  Now, I realize that the process of leading teams is more organic, feeding upon small next steps and results achieved by a team, building momentum through continued actions and more results.  I got a nice taste of that today.

Did I say that it was a good feeling?

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The Value of Quick Victories