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Set ‘New Horizons’ to Engage and Inspire Employees

Reaching for – and arriving at – the very edges of our solar system this week gave me pause for some reflection, and being able to slow down and reflect is one of those underrated leadership abilities that is worth investigating.

Imagine that you’ve sold your organization on a project that is speculative and risky, but has upside potential to bring visibility and investment that could be a game-changer. Imagine that you are able to launch a project that has a finite budget, requires precision in order to deliver expected results, assumes course corrections, and will take 9+ years to reach fruition. Very likely it could crash and burn. Imagine the patience and foresight, the planning and debates, the self-doubt and the arrogance of belief.

Imagine that as a leader, your role is to innovate and create, design and execute, and lead people through a vision that captures hearts and minds, imagination and courage, and taps into the creativity, brilliance and skill of your team.

Imagine that as an adult, you have the opportunity to take your childhood dreams to work with you every day, make them come true, and inspire others to do the same. Imagine that you get paid to do this work.

As a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut and an Olympic gymnast and an author and a detective.  Do you remember those days of thinking about what your future might be and how excited you were to be in that adventure, even if it was all make-believe? 

Imagine that you have a new employee, and it’s his first day. He too has a dream and is excited to be working for you and for the company. He wants to do his best and look for more to do at the end of the first week, because he has this dream of being more.  As a leader, how are you encouraging his positive attitude and infectious excitement? How are you connecting with that employee in a meaningful way to keep him engaged for the long-term?

Imagine that you have a vision for where you and your team will be in a year. Have you communicated that vision and how you will celebrate when you arrive? How are you leveraging the skills, abilities and talents of your team to align to that vision? Or are you on a course that isn’t charted to a specific destination?  

Slowing down to reflect on how we are showing up, what we are doing and where we are going is the most important thing we can do as leaders. With our busy schedules, creating time to reflect, to imagine and create, and to course correct feels like we’re reaching for Pluto, and yet the rewards can be as significant and amazing as the New Horizons journey.