Acrostic: A memory device that helps people remember discreet pieces of information. The first letter of each word in an acrostic spells out a word or message that provides a framework for understanding and application.


Leadership and Management Context

ROADMAP (Remove Obstacles Ambiguity Distractions and Mobilize Around Purpose) reminds business professionals that leadership success involves asking the right questions rather than always needing to have the right answers. As an illustration, one key right question of the team should be what impedes success or what distracts the team from a peak performance focus.

Leadership is authentic influence that creates value by mobilizing people toward a shared purpose or goal. With this in mind, this acrostic is easy to learn and teach to stay focused on leadership’s intent—helping people share the vision and contribute to its attainment.

ROADMAP (Remove Obstacles Ambiguity Distractions and Mobilize Around Purpose)


Main Idea: Remove means remove. This acrostic’s first word is more about awareness and focus than action. Instead of focusing on having the right answer, remove is about believing that your team could have the right answer, but an obstacle interferes. The leader’s mission is to remove that obstruction. Although this mission might be simple, like golf, it is difficult. Remove requires reprogramming ideas and beliefs with which you have likely been raised.


Main Idea: Not all obstacles are created equal. Often, intelligent people and people who think they are intelligent advocate a solution to a problem instead of understanding the context or impediment of the person asking the question.

This tendency bleeds into a diminishing leadership style whereby leaders, thinking their mission is to answer questions, act as thinking replacement instead of thinking partner. Put another way, the leader can be the biggest obstacle to peak team performance and individual growth and development.

Team members should consider several obstacles in team or individual peak performance. For example, people feeling unvalued in their job by the leader or not valuing the work (want to) is classic.

People lacking skills and abilities (able to) and not understanding expectations or the definition of success (know to) are others. Even so, the biggest inhibitor leaders miss is the most obvious—not being equipped with tools, processes, or support (equipped to). These four elements form another valuable acrostic called WAKE, which can be found on this blog.


Main Idea: Ambiguity is the enemy of commitment. The Holy Grail of leadership is convincing your followers that you can be trusted with their commitment of energy, passion, and full engagement to pursue a shared purpose. A clear vision, goals, and consistent messaging are the building blocks for fostering and sustaining commitment. Whereas commitment is nourished by clarity, it is compromised by ambiguity, which leads to high levels of uncertainty. The natural consequence of uncertainty is eroding commitment, usually to the point of compliance. The trouble with compliance is that, as the leader, you no longer have a fully engaged, creative team member. Instead, you have individuals who, because of the lack of clarity, take fewer risks and wait for direction before acting on next steps. Neuroscience demonstrates that uncertainty triggers a threat response in the brain that can have negative consequences on team and individual cognitive performance. High-performance teams depend on fully engaged, committed team members


Main Idea: Learn how to tame what Buddha called the monkey mind—an apt metaphor to illustrate our inability to stay focused on a specific task or aim. All distractions are obstacles because our brains are hardwired to pay attention to danger, food, and sex, but not always in that order.

With survival-based instincts in play in our brains, primal impulses to keep us alive prevail, especially when we do not pay attention. While experiencing the world, our brain is vigilant for any threat to our survival, real or imagined, for example, e-mail’s impact on productivity. A leader emphasizing an “always on” approach can cause team members to constantly listen for and respond to emails. Neuroscientists have discovered that our attentional focus takes several minutes to return to its best.

Imagine the impact on your team’s ability to focus if you are a diminisher, command-and-control manager, who constantly asks, “Are you done yet?” The distraction part of ROADMAP is the most overlooked success factor in leadership today.


Main Idea: Telling is not enough. The dictionary definition of mobilize , “to assemble, prepare, or put into active service of a purpose,” fits this acrostic’s intent. Mobilize is a key engagement strategy that can be executed by telling, selling, negotiating, or even enlisting.

When leaders think unconsciously, on autopilot, culturally induced memes (beliefs or attitudes) they have heard, thought, or learned are activated. Most likely, the go-to, automatic mobilizing approach will be telling, not because it is the most effective or appropriate, but because it is programmed in by the organizational culture.

Today’s fast-paced, multicultural, multigenerational, and complex work environments need a more agile mobilization strategy. Leaders must mobilize people through selling ideas, through willingness to negotiate win/win options, and by attracting people to a shared vision of a better future.


Main Idea: Around differs from with . When leaders mobilize around purpose, they communicate and model that their team must connect between their team role and the overall vision of the team or product. Around in this context means “energized by” as opposed to just understanding the intellectual or practical connection. Mobilizing through with is tactical, and it lacks the intensity and attraction of the transformational around.


Main Idea: Never let process impede purpose. Dictionaries define purpose as “an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides planned actions.” Intentionality about purpose goes beyond a vision, defined as “the ability to plan or see into the future.”

Purpose gives your mission legitimacy or appeal. The word mission is often defined as “an ambition or purpose assumed by a person or group.” Leadership manages meaning, especially by helping team members understand their personal or group purpose, interpret integration of the corporate mission, and see the goal, often called the vision.

Although we are hardwired to respond to danger, we are drawn to situations where our status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness (SCARF) are acknowledged and reinforced. David Rock in his groundbreaking work in 2009 created the SCARF model for social interaction.

Leaders manage meaning when they help shared meaning of key concepts, whereby shared meaning, and not shared agreement, helps team members transform shared meaning to shared purpose and shared ownership.

Final Words

Team members opting, without coercion or pressure, to achieve the envisioned shared purpose is the Holy Grail of leadership. Commitment to shared purpose leads to a shared ROADMAP, shared priority, and shared ownership. Shared ownership in a purpose is the fundamental building block for high-performing teams. The ROADMAP acrostic helps get you there.

Bill RichardsonBill Richardson, PMP, PgMP is a Procept Senior Consultant dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and organizations transform learning into measurable value. This simple but powerful imperative, which he calls Learning on Purpose , is the centerpiece for his consulting and training business and is aimed at engaging in learning as a process, not a one - time event. He can be counted on to candidly share his knowledge, global perspective, and objective insights about how to thrive in today’s fast-paced, turbulent, but opportunity - rich, environment. Your learning is his business.