Navigating Business: Captain, Where are We Headed to?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 08:29

Guest post by Gideon Kline 

Business life is littered with stories of success and failure. Those who had the right plans and equipment – but who set sail at inopportune times. Those whose plans were ill conceived at the outset.  And those that achieved much through brilliant planning, outstanding seamanship and a little bit of help from the conditions.

The great skill is knowing which direction to head in, when to set sail and having the right crew on board to execute your plan.  Much less discussed, but often important, is when to cut your losses and abandon the voyage.

My mission is simply to assist those on their journeys of achievement – to ensure they have the right plans, navigation equipment, tools and instruments to get the job done. To improve their prospects of success through a great working partnership.

So as captain, what is your primary purpose?

In a recent interview given to the New York Times, incoming CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, framed it as:  “How am I maximising the effectiveness of the leadership team… The framing for me is all about getting people to commit and engage in an authentic way, and for us to feel that energy as a team.”

Creating a sense of the collective around the defined true purpose of the organisation is the hallmark of great leaders and one of their first and most important responsibilities.

Meanwhile, back at Microsoft, Nadella then goes on to ask, “What’s the purpose of our leadership team?”

He answers on behalf of his team that, “Our purpose is to bring clarity, alignment and intensity.  What is the job we want to get done?  Are we aligned in order to be able to get it done? And are we pursuing that with intensity?” Nadella’s messages are instructive.

To affect great change, the ingredient of dissatisfaction with the current state of events or the reason for change must also be apparent. This is particularly true when the change is great, the tribe is large and the path forward extremely uncertain.

Change is often hard to create and sustain – in individuals, corporations and organisations.

Understanding the dynamics of change and how to positively influence them is a key role of the leader. This is particularly true in these times of great innovation and disruption to established business frameworks and models. Where what got us to our current position may not be enough to sustain us going forward. The only inevitability today is change, and the increasingly rapid rate of that change.

So if you or your business has reached a point where you have lost your bearings, perhaps lost the crew or are just uncertain which way to set sail, perhaps it is time to reset and rechart a new voyage into a promising tomorrow.


Gideon Kline is the CEO of True North Partners and has worked in senior management positions for organisations such as SEEK, Yahoo! and Metricon.  True North Partners is a consultancy specialising in corporate strategy, business planning and execution, leadership and corporate communications.  They partner organisations and their leadership seeking greater success in developing and implementing strategy and engaging staff in strategy and change programs.