Life is often likened to a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
But how often do you win? Do you more often watch others in the winner’s circle than celebrate with them? Do life’s triumphs pass you by far too often?
On the football field, the team that succumbs to scoreboard pressure can lose sight of what it needs to do to win. The team’s structure starts to unravel, the players forget the basics of how to defend and attack, teamwork gets subjugated for individual glory, and invariably the team gets overrun by the opposition and loses.
The team that doesn’t lose focus on its structure and processes, whatever pressure they find themselves under, usually win more games than they lose and rise to the top of the league table. When they get the fundamentals right, when they get the basics of the game right, success invariably looks after itself.
The same principles hold true with your own success. Taking this analogy further, consider the basic structural framework of any business, small, medium, large, national, or global.
As described by Michael Gerber in his bestselling book, The eMyth Revisited: Why Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, all successful businesses have three cogs that drive that business forward:
Each cog must perform its duty otherwise the business grinds to a halt.
Leadership sets the vision for that business, the destination to which the good ship and all on board are heading. Leadership determines what the future for that business is going to be like, including the values within which it will function and hold itself accountable.
For example, a computer company might set its vision as being a leader in artificial intelligence (AI). A hospital might set its vision as being a specialist centre for the treatment of brain cancer. A business vision is its reason for being, the reason it exists. Its cause.
Leadership also sets out the mission for that business. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set out his vision for the USA to become the leader in the space race. His mission was to send a man to the moon before the end of the decade and safely return him to earth.
If the vision is the why or purpose of the business, its mission is what it will do, or needs to do, to achieve that vision. Once the vision, mission and values have been set by leadership, it is management’s responsibility to organise and work out how it’s going to be achieved.
Management does this by implementing systems, establishing structures and developing strategies. It is also responsible for managing the people under its care who are running the systems, making sure they understand their roles within the business, and motivating them to perform their duties.
Broadly put, management writes the operations manual of how things are done in the business. Goal setting and action planning are important aspects of the management process.
Leadership and management therefore set the why, what, when, where, and how of the business. What remains is the third cog, operations, which is the who.
Operations are those who will do the work that’s required to meet the deadlines and achieve the goals set by leadership and management. Sales reps, personal assistants, teachers, mechanics, copy writers, even doctors and nurses fall into the category of operations. These are the workers who do all the necessary things that we, the consumers and taxpayers, pay to get done and expect to get done.
All three cogs are important. Without leadership, the business has no direction, no vision, no reason for its being. Without leadership, a business is essentially headless. Seneca, the Roman poet, put it eloquently:
If you don’t know to which port you’re sailing, no wind is helpful.
Without management, the business won’t have the accountability that comes from having structured roles, goal setting, and action planning. Without knowing what’s required or how to achieve it, the vision remains just a wishful dream.
Without operations, the business won’t have the means to power it toward its future vision. It will lack its engine room, its mechanics, to get things done.
This framework of leadership, management and operations is a model that can also be applied to your own life and help you achieve the success you deserve.
When set into motion, the cogs of leadership, management and operations form a process—a process of how to visualise success, how to plan success, and how to achieve success.
This process is how you empower yourself and take back control of your life. It’s your vision. It’s your plan. It’s your achievement.
You experience what you focus on. So awaken the leader within and commit to setting out the grandest vision of yourself you can.
Don’t wait for tomorrow. You have the inner power to start now. As Nike say, “Just do it.”