Managers should take lead from Magellan

Magellan was best known as the first explorer to successfully navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean — these earlier navigators used the stars to guide their way.

When I look up at the stars over the Flatirons on a clear black night, I think about how we apply the principles of navigation to our roles as a manager or sales manager within our organization.

You may not realize it, but as a manager, you must often serve as a navigator. You set the course for your sales team, or for your department. You set a course for yourself. You help your staff set their courses individually, and within the team context. You are constantly navigating. You map out territories, chart steps to take, test the conditions, correct others who have strayed off course, and try to reach the destinations determined for you, in large, by the company.

The course the company takes is largely determined by its vision, just as the course we take in life as individuals is determined by our personal vision. When personal visions and goals are in alignment with team visions and goals as well as company visions and goals, a powerful synergy is created throughout the company. Part of what you have the power to do as a manager is to work to shape your vision, the vision of those on your staff, and the vision of the company in a way that gives meaning to the goals you work to set.

Know your company’s vision. A vision is different from goals or a mission. It expresses a view of what could be. The vision, and sharing in the vision, can motivate and inspire us to reach our goals.

Determine your company’s vision, and share that vision with your staff. This creates a context in which company goals make personal sense to employees, which in turn is a powerful motivating dynamic.

Involve everyone who might be affected. A leader with a vision needs to share that vision with everyone who will be affected by it. The navigator informs the crew. The crew knows the destination. They are then empowered with the capacity to share in the pursuit of the vision, and the attainment of the goals.

Establish a plan of action to achieve the vision. It is possible to move “what is” closer to “what could be” — but not alone and not without a plan. The last step in visioning is to establish a plan of action. Develop the goals that give life and action to the vision. Here is where leader and follower are joined in their commitment to the vision.

Think about how your personal vision and goals fit with the vision and goals of your company. Is it a good fit, or a forced fit? The best fit is when your vision coalesces with the company’s vision. When you achieving your goals helps the company achieve its goals, synergy is created. Imagine what would happen if the vision of each team member coalesced with your vision for the team? What if their goals led to attainment of your goals?

If you were to set out to make some or all of your visions become a reality, what goals would you set to get there, in the real world?

Bob Bolak is the owner and president Sandler Training in Boulder and can be reached at 303- 991-0502 or


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