In the experience of starting the brand new Lego League program at my kids’ school, I learned an important lesson about leadership when starting something brand new. This lesson I call “Getting to the End.”
When you are starting something new, it’s not a big shock that there are more questions than answers, colleagues that will create roadblocks to success (either subtlety or not so much), challenges that emerge that were not planned or self-doubt about your ability to lead the team through the process. As a leader, it’s important to the team following you that you do not allow these obstacles to become a distraction to the larger goal. In my case, the goal was to complete the first season of Lego League and to have a showcase event to wrap up the season.
I noticed a few key elements about what happened to me as a leader through the process. The first was passion around the objective. I had a pretty clear picture that I had of the end state, and I was determined to see it through. I repeated this vision often to my team of volunteers. The vision became contagious, and the team definitely pulled together to deliver a great event!
The second was effectively delegating responsibility and trusting those delegates to deliver. As a control freak, this was hard for me. With this size of an effort, I found out that delegation was an absolute necessity. Plus, people are more than willing to help if they know what you want done. Once you do that delegation, you have to let go and let them be accountable for the result. In my case, I had a great group of volunteers and they convinced me early on to back off and let them handle the small details. The net result was a fantastic event and a group of volunteers who felt really good about the outcome. I remember how great I felt after it was all over.
So, getting to the end is probably the most important thing when starting a new venture. The learnings and insights gained during the journey will make the second iteration go so much better if you can avoid the distractions and keeping the eye on the prize.