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Begin with the end in mind – a leadership lesson from the Cheshire cat

“Can you tell me which road to take?”

“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

I was re-reading Lewis Carroll’s 1865 classic “Alice in Wonderland” the other day and was reminded of how this literary nonsense in fact isn’t. The whimsical Cheshire cat offers a valuable lesson in leadership – if you don’t know where you’re going, nothing that you can do will be of consequence. Which is exactly why leaders need to be very clear about their goals and department objectives, not only to themselves, but also to those they lead. In my experience, most (if not all) leaders have an inner vision of their intended destination. But they frequently fail when it comes to clearly communicating this vision to the rest of the team. You must be able to articulate to your team exactly where you wish to go, or else, not be surprised when nobody gets there.

So … what’s been your experience? Can you put your hand over your heart and say that every person on your team knows where you want the team and your department to go? How are you making this happen? Do share.


  • Great comment! Communication of goals and frequent updates are critical to making sure that people are focused. It is also important as a means to help people think about how they are contributing to achieving those goals. The culture of a an organization can be built around performance when this is done regularly and in a manner that is positive.

  • Jim I couldn’t agree more — the key is that the goals be communicated and then regular updates be provided. I am taken aback at how many times leaders are crystal-clear on their goals … to themselves … they forget that for success to happen, it’s necessary to communicate these goals frequently and positively to others.


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