When I was a boy, I always thought of my mom as being a very hard worker. As I got older, I started to put three things together – what I learned as a boy, what I learned about people and what I know about my own professional position. My mother worked long hours sewing blouses in a garment mill. I can remember the noise in that place, the humming, the droning and I can still see my mom with her head down pushing blouses through the machine. Today, that job would be considered tedious and monotonous. In fact most would never entertain that kind of work environment. Every day, for 20 years, she had to sustain her momentum. Think about it, for 20 years she worked like that; every day, momentum was necessary to continue her monotonous job. A person in that work environment has to have incredible momentum just to overcome the boredom and the tediousness of the job.
People like my mom have creative imaginations. They had to remove themselves mentally from the drone of the job. I could remember my mom being a woman who always had options. Whenever there was a crisis, no matter what the situation, it was my mother, the seamstress, who had options. I remember her having more options than some professional people because her life was built on sustaining and creating momentum. She had to have options to take herself out of the tediousness of the job. Here is a woman who lost her mother at age twelve, and was told by her father to quit high school and stay home to raise her younger brother and sister. Therefore, forget business, forget what your mentors are going to tell you, think like Mom and the momentum of the blue collar worker. They teach lessons of sustained momentum and energy systems that must operate daily. We have a great deal to learn from them. Often they can be more creative than any business executive.
By far, the truest form of momentum is a mother’s MOMentum.
An extremely important concept is the orientation team. Without creating an orientation team you, as a leader, will have difficulty handling all your responsibilities.
You want to build an orientation team around yourself. One that is different from a personal Board of Directors, or traditional management teams. This is a team that understands the corporate goals and can maneuver in negotiations, proposals, new ventures and opportunities. In its purest form, the orientation team can visit a third party and profile your organization into an understandable and attractive package. They will have a common focus, culture, mission and delivery.
The best way to mentor colleagues is to instill a feeling of confidence in the group that they have a primary focus to their own area of expertise. Later, you can train them to take on more and more responsibilities. Suppose we have an orientation team of four people with one representing finance, marketing, operations and customer service.
Each speaks about his own area of expertise to a potential client. In large meetings they gain confidence and support from the team. Eventually, the team may split to handle more volume, with team members handling more than one function. In the future, team members will duplicate themselves and the organization creates a system that will improve throughout time. No matter how long people work together, they rarely have the same mission or the same purpose. However, an orientation team will learn to think as one unit, will learn to move in unison and will anticipate each other’s thoughts. You want to create a concurrent mission and purpose. There are covert activities which the orientation team will need to conduct. These covert activities include that they act like an intelligence unit; they move on a mission. As a leader, the ability to gather intelligence is essential and real. What an orientation team can do for you is build momentum. I often think back to my mother, the leader of my first orientation team
The following are the key steps to building an Orientation Team:
- Begin with a strong leader with collaborative skills and innovative thinking.
- Ask colleagues to draft their thoughts why they should be selected to the Orientation Team. This creates an internal RFP for positions on the team. It is a fair way to select members.
- Allow the team to focus on both short and long-term goals.
- Establish a Thought Laboratory for creative and innovating thinking.
- Mix members from different divisions and disciplines.
- Ask them to take Leadership Profiles and then discuss as a group. This is the foundation to diversity of future succession and perpetuation planning.
No matter how broad-based your company is, we all have a specialization or niche. In many cases we need to create that specialization ourselves. Start by removing the notion that only one person can make up a team. Everyone has a talent that can support the mission. Teamwork is critical regardless if you are leading a team or supporting a team. In business, if people do not know the goals and vision it will be difficult for them to be creative. You must instill a sense of teamwork into all the people of the delivery system. Please do not trap yourselves into thinking the team concept is a new one.
Turn students into teachers, and as leaders, you should turn those you teach into teachers themselves. It’s the circle of life and absolutely necessary for our words and actions to have meaning.