Business Chess and Personal Accountability

I used to play chess all the time. I love the multi-dimensional nature of chess, the complexity and the way this game involves my mind. I used to play all the time – on my computer, on my phone and occasionally in person. I enjoyed playing chess more by myself because it was something that would help me unwind and challenge me in ways that I enjoyed.

Throughout all my years of playing chess I always applied three fundamental and strategic principles:

  1. See the whole board
  2. Think three moves ahead
  3. Never play one move at a time

Now I play less chess. But, I try to apply these principals to how I am leading Leadership Vision Consulting.

First: See The Whole Board

When Mark Hanson joined our firm, one of the biggest lessons he taught me was about seeing the whole board. Mark emphasized and re-emphasized how I needed to change my perspective on growing our business.

I used to focus on one event at a time – one move at a time. Mark taught me to see the whole board by focusing more on 12-18 months of business growth. Applying this strategy to our small business has been successful. Thank you Mark.

Second: Think Three Moves Ahead

We have a very clear focus: strengths based organizational consulting. And we have a very clear client engagement strategy: StrengthsFinder 201, 1 to 1 Conversations and the Learning Community 360º (with two options: Cultural Assessment and a Vision Trekk).

From this “three moves ahead” strategy, we have multiple directions a client can grow with us over the course of 18-24 months. We have an effective and successful three moves ahead approach to engaging and retaining our clients and sustaining our strengths based work.

Third: Never Play One Move at a Time

Leadership Vision has become really good at not making split second decisions. In the past we used to make decisions based on immediate opportunity and immediate financial needs – this is an example of playing one move at a time. As we have grown, we are saying ‘no’ to short term engagements, this would be a one move at a time. We continue to make good decisions that have long term and personal impact.

One Bad Move Has Consequences

In the game of chess, one bad move can cost you. In chess, you can get caught up in the complexity of the game, in your opponents move, and lose sight of the whole board. You will forget to think three moves ahead. You will make a single move, and it will cost you. I have done this within Leadership Vision more than once in the past 15 years.

Last week I broke one of these three principles. I made a one move at a time decision which I regret. I made the decision to miss the staff meeting and meet instead with people not connected with our team, that was a mistake. I placed the importance of others above the importance of our team. In so doing, I broke one of our values: Family First. Leadership Vision is family to me, and I did not act that way on Wednesday.

The lesson I learned is that I am still susceptible to the pressures of the moment. What I have also learned is that our team looks forward to our weekly staff meetings. We have team members in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Saskatchewan, Canada; and London England.

It is essential that we do all we can to maintain contact with each other and create opposites to grow together and challenge each other.