Relational results

I like jigsaw puzzles. Working on them is a lot like getting the pieces of your life to all fit together—only much easier!

One recent venture was a 2000-piece scene of the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle framed by an expanse of clear blue sky, majestic mountains, picturesque lakes and the surrounding Bavarian forest. Despite its size and complexity, I began the same way I always do:

          1. Dump out all the pieces and turn them all right-side up.
           2. Separate out the corners and edge pieces and construct the border.
           3. Assemble various patchworks of easily-identifiable portions.
           4. Scrutinize the image on the box lid to help sort the mishmash into proper spatial relationships.

Those were the easy parts.Then came the sky with its subtle shadings of blue, followed by the random greenery of the forest, where tedious comparisons of shapes, colors and detailed imagery required a more structured approach. And because this was a particularly challenging puzzle, I even used a magnifying glass to examine potential matches to confirm or deny their fit.

From the time those straight-edged pieces were first plucked from the chaos and directed into their purposeful niche, it took me three months. Through it all, however, studying the entire scene in minute detail is what guided me toward its eventual and satisfying completion.

In the small and manageable scale of a simple puzzle, we may be better able to grasp the influential role of leadership in a particular venture, and in so doing, enable its vision. There too we may also recognize the role of managing activities.

Leadership and management often make very fine partners, because their roles and responsibilities, while not interchangeable, are complementary. Management concerns itself with managing activities, focusing on such tasks as planning, organizing, controlling, coordinating, and problem solving. But leadership is primarily about influencing people, focusing instead on vision casting, inspiring, persuading, motivating and building relationships.

Connective leadership is relational at its core—cultivating, managing, and motivating your human resources, and connecting them in personal and sustained commitments to your physical, natural, financial and technical resources, to achieve action and realize results.

The process of leading and managing your team and its assets into a well-ordered and comprehensive whole is not unlike poring over the thousands of details that come together for an all-inclusive, unified and functionally complete puzzle. Consider these relational, ordered steps to unity:

          Up! Orient your team members to the same heads-up direction. Model the vision of what their completed work will look like. Encourage the interrelationships that this cooperative venture will require.

          Down! Some people are anchor points and boundary markers that help define the issues. Equip them in their positions first so others may more easily find their connection points as the project advances.

        Elevated! While tending to the details, keep an elevated perspective on the big picture. Continue to compare your progress with the projected end result. Maintain momentum. Celebrate landmark accomplishments.

        Inward! Continually examine the fit and function of your members as you build and enlarge. Perhaps there’s a more suitable position for their individual contributions.

        Interlocking! Empower every member, no matter how insignificant or indistinguishable they may appear at the start, to their particular niches. The most glaring omission in a finished project is the piece that’s missing.

MasterPoint: Visionary team leadership unifies people for purposeful achievement.