Organizations can be dark and dismal places. People don't see clearly in the darkness. Workers work without a shared mission. Managers manage with obfuscated goals. Leaders lead within an ever changing landscape. It is a miracle that we get anything accomplished.
People try to get organized when they can't see clearly. We try to turn confusion into clarity. We have meetings to discuss our work. We create policies and procedures to guide our actions. We build work habits and rituals in order to bring us comfort. Unfortunately, many of our actions do nothing but organize us into a dark and dismal death spiral.
The death spiral consists of the meetings that are irrelevant, policies that no longer apply, plans that no longer work, and procedures that are relics of days long passed. The death spiral is that never ending effort to organize nothingness. It is doing things right while doing the wrong things.
Leadership is the death spiral's kryptonyte. It is the force that drives clarity and eliminates confusion. It is the light that shows us the way. The great leader uses leadership like a flashlight. She points it through the darkness and illuminates the destination. Her flashlight focuses on what is important and ignores the extraneous information that surrounds it.
If you are a leader you must recognize that you create light within darkness. Your leadership is like a flashlight. Point your flashlight forward and you will go forward. Point it backwards and you will go backwards. It is easy to point your flashlight in a direction. The trick is pointing it in the right direction.