Marriage, not the wedding

As you can imagine, I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my life. Small weddings, large weddings, weddings for second marriages (and third) – weddings in the UK and weddings abroad. One of the things that I have become good at over the years is being able to predict at a wedding – with a high level of accuracy – whether a marriage will get into difficulties in the first few years or not.

Now that it is not because I am psychic or a fortune teller. How I can tell is, whether the couple has spent more time thinking and talking about the wedding than they have on discussing the marriage.

The wedding is just a day but a marriage should, hopefully, last a lifetime. Yet I have known couples who have spent months talking about the wedding day without having talked about important things like whether they want children or what are the values that they want to lives their joint lives by.

What does marriage have to do with running an organisation or with being a CEO?

Focusing on just reaching a target without thinking about what happens afterwards is like focusing on the wedding without thinking about the marriage afterwards. If you don’t stop to plan what will happen after a target has been met, then you run the risk of converting a success into a failure.

For example, I am a huge supporter of getting more women on boards and want to see this happen but I do worry that I have heard little said about how do you keep women on boards. I have worked in male dominated environments and I know that it can be tough being the only woman there.

As leaders, the pressure on us is to reach a specified goal or getting our staff to reach agreed targets but an organisation needs to keep continuously evolving and growing. It isn’t about just reaching targets but about achieving the overall mission of the organisation in a way that allows the organisation to grow and develop whilst staying true to its values.

We have all seen what happens when organisations just focus on reaching targets and lose their way in the process. Think of bankers only thinking about reaching targets that allow them to get a bonus or hospitals where targets were met but patients suffered as a result.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t have targets but think of them more as milestones on a journey much like a wedding is just a milestone in the journey of a marriage.