Ms. GPS is the voice on the wonderful technology that helps us navigate in unknown territory and arrive at a new destination easily. Global positioning devices have saved us lots of time and frustration. (OK, and occasionally led us astray, but on the whole….stay with me here.) Ms. GPS also provides a few good reminders for how we can help others achieve their goals, faster and more easily.
While the voice of Ms. GPS can become a little wearing, her usefulness is unquestionably lovable.Great Lessons from the Lady in the Box:
Ms. GPS doesn't start talking until after you have defined starting and ending coordinates. If she started talking before you had entered current and desired addresses, you would treat her voice like babble and turn her off. Lesson: Help others define clear, meaningful goals before you do anything else. Helping them make a Best Year Yet® plan is a powerful first step to producing great results. How well do those you support know the specific coordinates that mark their "success?"
Ms. GPS gives guidance in bite size chunks and at the right time, just before you need to use it. She gives it simply, clearly and timed well. How well do you calibrate the advice you give to meet others' pace, style and needs?
She always looks to the future. If you miss a turn, Ms. GPS immediately says, "Recalculating." She never says "stop until you explain why you didn't do what I said." She objectively assesses the reality of a new situation and starts teaching how to move forward successfully. How well do you help others focus forward vs. stall in the past?
Her advice is always about how to achieve the goal, not about the personality of the driver. She never embarrasses you by saying, "You incompetent, inattentive idiot, you missed the turn!" She simply accepts what happened and works to improve the situation. (Actually, we'd all be wise to apply this lesson for our own internal voices as much or more than for our voices to others.)
Ms. GPS occasionally makes mistakes when her data model is outdated and she isn't aware of construction, detours and new one-way streets. When she does misdirect you, and you make an independent choice that contradicts her recommendation, she adjusts. She doesn't need to be perfect; she just keeps helping you find the way to the goal regardless of any surprise. How well do you stay open to new information and novel ideas for supporting others well?
Ms. GPS doesn't expect appreciation. Her job is done well when the driver meets the goal. At the risk of anthropomorphizing a GPS voice, she is "internally" driven vs. dependent on others' approval and appreciation. How often do you feel frustrated because others' shortfalls make you look bad? What if you dropped "it's all about me" and focused solely on making them successful?
Ms. GPS never gives up. She keeps navigating from wherever you are to whatever you result you want. She takes in new information along the way and recalculates when it surprises her. She stays focused on helping you achieve results without judging you, ever.
However, Ms. GPS clearly doesn't have a variety of invaluable people skills that help others achieve results. She doesn't help set inspiring goals, teach new skills, listen well or authentically encourage your best, but I hope you find the above thought provoking and helpful. When you are committed to the success of others, your natural skills will help you to provide these skills as well.
Let us know if you have more lessons from your GPS and we'll share them.
About the Author
Meredith Kimbell is a Best Year Yet® Partner and President of Corporate Adventure®, Reston, VA. She is an executive advisor, strategy consultant and leadership coach. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.corporateadventure.com. Meredith's new book, Rebooting Leadership: Lessons for Frontline Leaders (and Their Bosses) in the New World will be published this fall.