I attended a workshop last year on the topic of capacity. The presenter, Dr Tom Lambshead, brought together several propositions in a way that really highlighted the essential chain of elements that enable moving from a clearly defined mission to becoming multipliers and seeing achievement and expansion occur.
While none of the individual statements are revolutionary, I found their combination to help illuminate for me some of the personal stumbling blocks in feeling impactful and realizing a multiplicative effect of my efforts.
I won’t steal Dr Lambshead’s individual points, but here’s how I saw them come together:
Mission ⇒ Commitment ⇒ Priorities ⇒ Capacity ⇒ Multiplication ⇒ Impact
I have a deep interest in managing capacity well—neither over-obligating myself nor under-utilizing the resources I have available. I also am continually interested in entering my days and my projects with proper priorities and a sense of process. By personality, I am inclined toward loyalty and commitment, sticking with what I’m a part of and what’s familiar to me.
As you can see, I feel comfortable with three of the internal links of the mission⇒impact chain displayed above, but have felt frustrated in not having clear evidence of multiplying myself or impact. These three internal ingredients seem relatively useless without the beginning and end of the chain which anchors these virtues & perspectives in a real endeavor and a tangible outcome.
The capacity workshop helped me to see (again) that my frustration largely stemmed from an ill-defined sense of mission (see Chapter 12 of Embracing Followership).
I have in mind the picture of a ship tied to a mooring or a dock. Without this first link in the chain, without the starting point that anchors all the forthcoming efforts, we have at best little more than a nicely-run vessel that is haphazardly adrift. The decks may be clean, the lockers well-organized, the holds well-supplied (commitment, priorities, & capacity), but with no map, rudder, wind, or fuel (mission), the ship is hardly fulfilling its purpose and certainly not going to eventually make any headway on an upcoming voyage. Without a starting point, no one can plot a course, and no amount of resources alone can make an excursion worthwhile if there’s no identified purpose that’s being pursued.
For me, that’s where the challenge comes: a sense of having available resources—capacity, keen to keep a commitment, capable of keeping on task—but without the clarity of mission which is actually what calls forth the commitment, which frames the priority list, which guides the application of capacity, then it should really be no surprise that I have an experience of frustration in regards to multiplication and impact.
Mission. Vision. Calling. Purpose. Goals. Aims. These are where the chain begins.
An organization that loosely articulates, or only broadly follows, its mission statement will make it a challenge for the rest of the chain to link-up and unfold.
A leader who bends the mission to suit a personal agenda or career aspiration will permanently kink the alignment of subordinates’ efforts with the hope of impact.
A follower who does not know the mission, or who does not perceive (and respond to) the strong invitation to personal commitment (ownership; see Chapter 7), will never have that necessary anchor-point to which to attach his or her talents, abilities, energies, gifts, interests, perspective, and experience (stewardship; see Study 5 of the Discussion Guide).
Each of these faults (and certainly any combination of them) will lead to disappointment, lack of results, rusted (eroded) morale, and misapplication of resources.
So, let’s fix our chain. Get the links aligned, fastened to one another, and especially to that initial anchor-point of mission. Only then might we have a reasonable expectation of multiplying ourselves toward real impact and achievement.
For encouragement and guidance in understanding and applying yourself to following and leading with excellence and helping others to do the same, see:
Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture (by Allen Hamlin Jr; Feb 2016), and A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups (Dec 2017) —
along with our variety of free downloadable resources and the index of other posts on this site.