4: The Law of Navigation
The law of navigation maintains that a leader charts the course for his followers. He does not merely set a goal and expect others to achieve it, but shows them the way and guides them through the entire journey. They "see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock: they know what they will do, what they need to be successful, and prepare for any foreseeable obstacles along the way.
The author contrasts the leadership given to the English (Scott) and Norwegian (Admunsen) teams in their 1911 race to reach the South Pole. Admunsen planned and prepared in meticulous detail, considering not only the needs of his team but the route they would take to their goal and back. Scott's approach was more haphazard: he gathered the necessary supplies and set off, discovering the path as they went. The Norwegians arrived at the pole a month ahead of the English, and didn't lose a single man. Scott's ream reached the pole, but the entire team died before making it back.
Why People Follow
People follow a navigator because they believe in his ability to chart a course that will lead to a positive outcome. (EN: more specifically, it is a positive outcome for his followers. Those who would seek to achieve for themselves to the detriment of their followers find that few are willing to follow them.)
Some of the methods for doing so are discussed:
- A navigator can draw on past experience, both repeating what has succeeded and avoiding what has failed.
- A navigator draws on other sources, listening to what others have to contribute, both from other navigators and his team.
- A navigator considers conditions before making commitments, knowing that conditions can make a good choice bad and vice-versa.
- A navigator differentiates faith from fact, tempering optimism for achieving the goal with realization of the obstacles and challenges.
It's fairly easy to point to an objective, but this is not the same as navigation: navigation is envisioning the path to the objective and the ability to navigate through inclement conditions. It takes more than charisma and cheerleading to accomplish this.
The author outlines a basic strategy for charting a course others will follow:
- Determine The Objectives - Action without a purpose may accidentally achieve some positive results.
- Plan a Course of Action - Determine what steps must be taken to move from where you are to where you want to be.
- Consider Possible Obstacles - Consider what might go wrong at each step along the way if conditions aren't as expected
- Consider the Cost - Nothing can be achieved without investment, at least of money at time, and you should assess whether the outcome merits the cost
- Adjust Your Priorities - There may be a list of benefits, but only one can be the most important. Consider which that is, and why.
- Share it with Your Followers - Few people will follow blindly. Enthusiasm and support will be greater if they understand the purpose.
- Allow Time for Acceptance - Even when people understand a plan and value the outcome, they will need time to become emotionally vested in it.
- Set out - It should go without saying that nothing is accomplished simply by dreaming of it, but many great plans exist that have never gotten out of the planning stage.
- Expect Problems - No matter how carefully you plan, problems will arise. Be prepared to make adjustments and tactical decisions that keep things moving in spite of obstacles that arise.
(EN: I tampered with the list above a bit, rearranging some of the steps that seemed out of order and adding a couple the author didn't include, but seemed implicit in the narrative he provided afterward.)
Maintaining the faith of your followers in your ability to navigate is a critical skill for leaders. The most skilled planner accomplishes nothing without the support of those involved. The most effective leader can get his followers to go just about anywhere.