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The Vigilant Leader: Staying Ahead of the Curve in a Shifting Landscape

The business world is a dynamic ecosystem. Trends, technologies, and customer needs can morph overnight, leaving unprepared leaders scrambling to catch up. As a leader, staying abreast of changes within and outside your organization is not just a box to tick; it’s the cornerstone of sustainable success.

This blog post dives into the essential strategies that empower leaders to become vigilant observers of their business landscape, allowing them to anticipate change and lead with foresight.

Cultivating Internal Awareness: Taking Your Business’s Pulse

Effective leadership starts within. Here’s how to stay attuned to your organization’s internal environment:

  • Embrace Employee Feedback: Employees are the lifeblood of your company. They witness day-to-day challenges and opportunities. Foster a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable providing honest feedback through surveys, town halls, or dedicated suggestion boxes.
  • Empower Departmental Visibility: Break down silos between departments. Encourage interdepartmental collaboration and knowledge sharing. This cross-pollination allows leaders to see the bigger picture and identify potential roadblocks or areas for synergy.
  • Embrace Data-Driven Decisions: Data is your most objective observer. Regularly review key performance indicators (KPIs) across departments to identify trends and areas needing improvement. Tools like business intelligence dashboards with real-time data can provide constant insights.
  • Conduct Regular Internal Audits: Schedule periodic reviews of internal processes, workflows, and employee performance. This allows you to identify inefficiencies, redundancies, and areas where employee skills need updating or training.

Turning Your Gaze Outward: Keeping Your Finger on the Industry Pulse

Staying informed about external developments is equally crucial. Here’s how to expand your awareness:

  • Become an Industry News Devourer: Subscribe to relevant industry publications, both online and in print. Follow industry influencers and thought leaders on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Schedule dedicated time each day or week to consume this content.
  • Embrace Industry Events and Conferences: Attend industry conferences, trade shows, and workshops. These events offer valuable networking opportunities with peers and exposure to cutting-edge solutions and upcoming trends.
  • Benchmark Against Industry Leaders: Analyze how your competitors are approaching challenges and capitalizing on opportunities. Use this information to identify best practices and potential areas for differentiation.
  • Conduct Customer Insights Research: Regularly collect customer feedback through surveys, focus groups, and social media monitoring. This allows you to understand evolving customer needs and preferences, ensuring your offerings remain relevant.

From Awareness to Action: Transforming Insights into Impact

Staying informed is just the first step. Here’s how to translate insights into actionable strategies:

  • Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Make change a constant companion, not a disruptive visitor. Encourage a culture of experimentation and innovation where your team feels empowered to explore new ideas.
  • Develop a Proactive Approach: Don’t wait for change to hit you. Based on your insights, develop a proactive plan to address potential challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities.
  • Invest in Employee Development: As technology and trends evolve, your workforce needs to adapt. Invest in training and upskilling programs to ensure your team possesses the skills required to navigate the evolving landscape.
  • Embrace Agility and Flexibility: The business landscape is fluid, so your approach should be too. Develop a flexible organizational structure that allows you to pivot strategies and adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

Building Your Vigilant Leadership Toolkit

Staying ahead of the curve requires a specific set of leadership skills:

  • Critical Thinking: Discern the bigger picture from the noise. Analyze information, identify cause-and-effect relationships, and make well-informed decisions.
  • Strategic Planning: Develop long-term plans that capitalize on opportunities and mitigate potential threats identified through your awareness efforts.
  • Effective Communication: Keep your team informed about internal and external changes. Clearly articulate the rationale behind new strategies and decisions, fostering buy-in and enthusiasm.
  • Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: Not all situations have clear-cut solutions. Develop the ability to make informed decisions even when faced with incomplete information.

Conclusion: The Reward of Vigilance

In today’s dynamic business world, the vigilant leader thrives. By cultivating internal awareness, staying attuned to external trends, and translating insights into action, you become a proactive leader, able to anticipate change and position your business for sustainable success.

Remember, the journey of a vigilant leader is continuous; it’s a commitment to lifelong learning and adaptation. By remaining curious and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, you can ensure your organization not only survives, but thrives in the face of change.

If you’re looking for advice and guidance on shaping some of the leadership skills mentioned here, let’s talk.

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Building Trust and Relationships: Key Leadership Strategies Beyond Process and Content

In the dynamic world of business, effective leadership extends far beyond the mastery of processes and the dissemination of content. While these elements are undoubtedly important, they fall short when addressing the nuanced and complex nature of people problems.

Leaders who rely too heavily on structured procedures or informational content often find themselves struggling to foster genuine relationships and build trust within their teams. In this piece, we will delve into the key leadership strategies that transcend process and content, emphasizing the critical importance of relationship-building and trust in resolving interpersonal challenges.

Discover how adopting a people-centric approach can elevate your leadership effectiveness and drive sustainable business growth.

The Pitfalls of Over-reliance on Process

Process-Centric Leadership Drawbacks

Process-centric leadership often leads to rigidity and a lack of adaptability. While structured procedures provide a clear framework, they can also stifle creativity and hinder the ability to respond to unique, people-centric challenges. Leaders who focus too heavily on processes may find themselves disconnected from their teams, as the human element is overshadowed by an overemphasis on rules and guidelines.

This can result in a lack of trust and reduced team morale, as employees may feel undervalued and micromanaged. Furthermore, a strict process-oriented approach can slow down decision-making, making it difficult to address issues promptly. In the fast-paced business environment, the inability to adapt and respond swiftly can lead to missed opportunities and decreased organizational effectiveness. Therefore, balancing process with a people-oriented approach is essential for cultivating a responsive and engaged workforce.

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Neglecting the Human Element

Neglecting the human element in leadership can have detrimental effects on team dynamics and overall performance. When leaders prioritize processes over people, they risk alienating their team members. Employees may feel like mere cogs in a machine, leading to decreased motivation and engagement. Such an environment stifles open communication and trust, which are crucial for effective collaboration and problem-solving.

Without recognizing and addressing individual needs and concerns, leaders miss opportunities to harness the full potential of their teams. Moreover, employees who feel undervalued are more likely to experience burnout and disengagement, resulting in higher turnover rates.

By neglecting the human element, leaders not only compromise the well-being of their team but also hinder the organization’s ability to innovate and grow. Thus, incorporating empathy and understanding into leadership practices is essential for fostering a resilient and high-performing team.

Striking the Right Balance

Striking the right balance between process and people-centric leadership is key to effective management. Leaders must understand that while processes provide structure and consistency, they are not a substitute for genuine human interaction. To achieve this balance, leaders should integrate flexibility within their frameworks, allowing for adaptability in response to unique team needs.

Encouraging open communication and feedback can help leaders stay connected with their teams, fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect. Additionally, recognizing and valuing individual contributions ensures that employees feel appreciated and motivated. By blending structured processes with a strong emphasis on relationships, leaders can create an environment where both efficiency and employee satisfaction thrive.

This balanced approach not only enhances team cohesion but also drives sustainable business growth by leveraging the strengths and talents of all team members. Effective leadership, therefore, requires a harmonious integration of process and empathy.

Content-Centric Leadership Challenges

Information Overload

Information overload is a significant drawback of content-centric leadership. When leaders inundate their teams with excessive data, reports, and directives, it can lead to confusion and overwhelm. Employees may struggle to prioritize tasks or discern critical information from less important details, resulting in decision paralysis and decreased productivity.

Additionally, the constant barrage of content can lead to burnout, as team members feel pressured to keep up with the relentless flow of information. This environment stifles creativity and critical thinking, as employees are too focused on processing information rather than innovating and problem-solving. Consequently, important messages may get lost in the noise, leading to miscommunication and errors.

To avoid information overload, leaders should focus on delivering concise, relevant content and encourage open dialogue to ensure clarity. By doing so, they can help their teams stay focused, motivated, and effective in their roles.

Disconnect with Team Dynamics

Content-centric leadership can create a disconnect between leaders and their teams. When leaders focus predominantly on disseminating information, they may overlook the importance of understanding team dynamics. This can result in a top-down communication style that neglects the input and feedback of team members.

Consequently, employees may feel undervalued and disengaged, as their perspectives and experiences are not considered. Such a disconnect can erode trust and hinder collaboration, leading to a fragmented team environment. Moreover, without a clear understanding of team dynamics, leaders may miss signs of conflict or dissatisfaction, which can escalate into larger issues.

To bridge this gap, leaders should prioritize active listening and foster an inclusive atmosphere where every team member feels heard and respected. By doing so, they can align content with the needs and context of their team, ensuring that communication is both effective and meaningful.

Finding the Middle Ground

Finding the middle ground between content-centric and people-centric leadership is essential for fostering a balanced and effective team environment. Leaders must recognize that while content is crucial for informed decision-making, it should not overshadow the importance of human connection and team dynamics.

One way to achieve this balance is by tailoring communication to suit the needs and preferences of the team. Leaders should prioritize quality over quantity, ensuring that the information shared is relevant and actionable. Additionally, fostering an open dialogue encourages team members to voice their thoughts and concerns, creating a more inclusive and collaborative atmosphere.

Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help leaders gauge the team’s pulse and adjust their approach accordingly. By integrating both content and empathy into their leadership style, leaders can build a cohesive team that is not only well-informed but also motivated and engaged, driving overall business success.

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Celebrating Father’s Day: The Intersection of Parenthood and Leadership

Father’s Day offers a unique opportunity to reflect on the often-overlooked parallels between parenthood and leadership. As we honor fathers, it’s essential to recognize that the skills required to be an effective parent are remarkably similar to those needed to excel in leadership roles. Both arenas demand patience, guidance, and the ability to inspire and nurture growth. In this narrative, we will explore how fatherhood can serve as a powerful training ground for cultivating leadership qualities, providing strategic insights that benefit not only family life but also professional environments. Join us as we delve into the intersection of parenthood and leadership, uncovering valuable lessons that can accelerate your professional growth and effectiveness as a business leader.

The Role of Fatherhood in Leadership

Lessons from Fatherhood

Fatherhood teaches invaluable lessons that translate seamlessly into leadership. One of the most significant takeaways is the importance of patience. As a father, you learn that growth and development take time, whether nurturing a child or fostering a team’s capabilities. Additionally, fatherhood emphasizes the power of active listening.

Understanding your child’s needs and concerns parallels engaging with your team’s ideas and feedback. Moreover, the experience of setting boundaries and enforcing rules at home builds skills in establishing clear expectations and accountability in the workplace. Through fatherhood, one also learns the critical balance of showing empathy while maintaining authority. These lessons not only enhance your capability to lead but also foster a supportive and productive environment, driving both personal and professional growth.

Balancing Responsibilities

Balancing the responsibilities of fatherhood and leadership is a masterclass in time management and prioritization. As a father, you often juggle various roles, from caregiver to mentor, while ensuring your professional duties are met. This dual responsibility sharpens your ability to prioritize tasks effectively, ensuring that urgent and important matters are addressed promptly.

It also teaches the art of delegation. Just as you might share household responsibilities with your partner, in a professional setting, delegating tasks to team members empowers them and optimizes productivity.

Additionally, balancing these roles enhances your resilience and adaptability, as unexpected challenges arise frequently in both domains. By mastering this balance, you not only improve your efficiency but also set a positive example for your team, demonstrating that it’s possible to achieve a harmonious integration of personal and professional life.

Building Emotional Intelligence

Fatherhood significantly contributes to developing emotional intelligence, a critical asset in effective leadership. As a father, you become attuned to your child’s emotional states, learning to discern and respond to their needs with empathy and understanding. This sensitivity translates well into the workplace, where recognizing and addressing the emotions of your team members can lead to a more harmonious and productive environment.

Moreover, handling the emotional highs and lows of parenting enhances your emotional regulation skills. You learn to maintain composure and provide stability, even during stressful situations. Additionally, fatherhood encourages reflective listening and open communication, essential components of emotional intelligence.

These skills enable you to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with your team, fostering trust and collaboration. By honing your emotional intelligence through fatherhood, you become a more compassionate and effective leader, capable of inspiring and guiding your team with empathy and insight.

Leadership Skills Honed by Parenthood

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a cornerstone of both successful parenting and leadership. As a parent, you learn to convey complex ideas in simple, understandable terms, a skill that is invaluable in the business world. Whether explaining a concept to a child or articulating a vision to your team, clarity and conciseness are essential.

Fatherhood also teaches the importance of non-verbal communication. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language can significantly impact how messages are received, and being attuned to these cues can enhance your ability to connect with others. Additionally, active listening becomes second nature through parenting.

By truly hearing and responding to your child’s needs, you cultivate a habit that improves team interactions and problem-solving in the workplace. These refined communication skills not only enhance your leadership effectiveness but also build stronger, more cohesive teams, driving organizational success.

Empathy and Understanding

Empathy and understanding are vital leadership skills that are deeply cultivated through parenthood. As a father, you frequently navigate the emotional landscapes of your children, learning to empathize with their experiences and perspectives. This practice of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes translates directly into the workplace, where understanding your team members’ viewpoints can lead to more effective management and conflict resolution.

Empathy fosters a supportive and inclusive environment, encouraging team members to share their ideas and concerns openly. Additionally, understanding the unique strengths and weaknesses of each individual allows you to tailor your leadership approach, maximizing each team member’s potential.

This personalized attention not only boosts morale but also enhances productivity and innovation. By integrating empathy and understanding into your leadership style, you create a culture of trust and respect, essential for the long-term success of any organization.

Decision-Making Under Pressure

Parenthood is an excellent training ground for effective decision-making under pressure, a crucial skill for any leader. As a father, you often face unexpected situations that require quick, decisive action, such as handling emergencies or resolving conflicts between siblings.

This constant exposure to high-pressure scenarios hones your ability to stay calm and think clearly, even when time is of the essence. In the professional realm, these skills are invaluable. Leaders frequently encounter high-stakes decisions that impact the organization’s future.

The ability to assess the situation rapidly, weigh options, and make sound decisions is enhanced by your experiences as a parent. Furthermore, parenthood teaches you to consider the long-term consequences of your decisions, balancing immediate needs with future implications. This strategic mindset ensures that your decisions are not only effective in the short term but also sustainable in the long run, driving enduring success for your team and organization.

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Leading with Empathy: Unlocking Your Team’s Zone of Genius

Empathy – it’s a leadership buzzword thrown around a lot. But what does it truly mean to lead with empathy? Sure, it involves understanding emotions and perspectives. But great leaders take it a step further: they see the potential within their team members. They understand that empathy includes finding each person’s “zone of genius.”

The concept of the “zone of genius” comes from the idea that we all have areas where we naturally excel. These are the activities that energize us, come easily, and allow us to produce exceptional results. When a leader can identify these zones within their team, they unlock a powerful dynamic.

Why Focus on the Zone of Genius?

Leading with empathy through the lens of the zone of genius offers several advantages:

  • Increased Engagement: People are most passionate and productive when they’re doing what they do best. By placing individuals in their zones of genius, you ignite their intrinsic motivation. They’ll feel a sense of purpose and ownership over their work.
  • Enhanced Performance: When someone operates in their zone of genius, they deliver exceptional results. Their natural talents and abilities shine through, leading to higher quality work and increased efficiency.
  • Stronger Teams: When individuals understand and appreciate each other’s strengths, collaboration flourishes. Team members become more supportive, leveraging each other’s zones of genius for collective success.
  • Improved Retention: People who feel valued and utilized for their unique strengths are more likely to stay with an organization. Recognizing and nurturing their zone of genius fosters a sense of belonging and career growth.

So, How Do You Find Your Team’s Zone of Genius?

Here are some practical tips to get you started:

  • Open Communication: The foundation lies in open communication. Encourage regular conversations where team members can discuss their passions, interests, and past accomplishments. Ask them about projects they’ve enjoyed and excelled in.
  • Observe and Assess: As a leader, be an attentive observer. Watch for patterns in behavior and performance. Who naturally gravitates toward specific tasks? Who thrives under pressure or excels in brainstorming sessions?
  • Strengths Assessments: Consider utilizing personality or strengths assessments. While not definitive, these tools can provide valuable insights into natural capabilities and preferred work styles.
  • Direct Feedback: Don’t shy away from direct feedback. Ask team members for their self-assessment on strengths and weaknesses. Encourage honest conversations to refine your understanding of their zones of genius.

Remember:

Finding your team’s zone of genius is an ongoing process. As people grow and develop, their strengths might evolve. Be prepared to continually adapt and refine your approach.

Leading with empathy through the zone of genius isn’t just about being nice, it’s about unlocking the full potential of your team. By empowering individuals to operate in their strengths, you create a dynamic and high-performing organization.

Now, go forth and discover the hidden genius within your team!

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The Post-COVID Mindset Shift: Redefining Work, Family, and Loyalty

Embracing the Post-Covid Mindset: Rethinking Work and Family

As an executive coach who’s guided leaders through thick and thin for over 20 years, I’ve witnessed a fascinating phenomenon: a large-scale mindset shift triggered by the global pandemic. COVID-19 didn’t just disrupt our health; it fundamentally changed the way we approach work, family, and even our relationship with employers.

Work vs. Family: Finding Harmony, Not Balance

For decades, the narrative was all about achieving “work-life balance.” COVID exposed the fallacy of this concept. Balance implies a constant teeter-totter act, sacrificing one for the other. The new reality? Harmony.

Employees, especially those with families, realized the importance of integrating work and personal life seamlessly. Remote work options, once a perk, became a necessity. This newfound flexibility allowed parents to be more present for their children, attend school events, and manage household responsibilities during the workday.

Remote vs. In-Office: Redefining Productivity

The success of remote work shattered the myth that in-office presence equates to productivity. Millions thrived in remote environments, proving their value and output without a physical office. Companies are now re-evaluating traditional work models, embracing a hybrid approach that caters to individual preferences and team needs.

This shift isn’t just about convenience; it’s about empowering employees. The trust fostered by remote work fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, leading to a more engaged workforce.

Loyalty to Employers: A Two-Way Street

The days of unquestioning loyalty to a company for life are fading. Employees, especially younger generations, prioritize flexibility, purpose, and growth opportunities in their careers. The stability of a paycheck is no longer enough.

This doesn’t signal the end of loyalty; it simply demands reciprocity. Employees are loyal to companies that invest in their development, offer work-life harmony, and foster a culture of trust and transparency.

So, how can you, as a leader, navigate this new mindset landscape?

  • Embrace Flexibility: Recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works. Offer employees flexible work arrangements, remote options, and compressed workweeks.
  • Focus on Outcomes, Not Hours: Shift the focus from the number of hours worked to the quality of output. Empower your team to manage their time effectively and deliver results.
  • Invest in Your People: Provide opportunities for professional development, create clear career paths, and offer competitive compensation and benefits packages.
  • Build Trust and Transparency: Communicate openly and honestly with your team. Encourage feedback and create a safe space for open dialogue.
  • Lead with Empathy: Recognize that your employees are juggling work and personal lives. Be understanding and supportive, fostering a culture of well-being.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a global experiment in work. The results are clear: We can be productive, engaged, and successful without clinging to outdated models. By embracing flexibility, prioritizing well-being, and fostering a culture of trust, you can build a thriving team in this new era of work.

Ready to lead your team through this transformative time? Contact Doug Thorpe today to discuss how executive coaching can help you navigate the post-COVID business landscape and unlock the full potential of your team.

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Boundarylessness – What Is It?

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, had a term he liked to share with his executive team. The word was “Boundarylessness”. What he meant was each leader should explore the boundaries they have set for themselves; the artificial limits placed in the heart of man. These limiting thoughts need to be eliminated. He wanted no boundaries to hold back the leader’s effort. He implored people to operate with this mindset of “boundarylessness”.

Boundary
Boundary

Boundarylessness is a literal concept. The word means what it says: eliminate boundaries within an organization or a team to create universal ownership of the organization’s overall mission. The concept is to create an open, sharing climate that seeks to harness the combined strength of the business. (See August 20, 2008, posting “Accessing Collective Intelligence.”)

Boundarylessness has proved notably effective in bringing individuals together, cutting across business functions and organizational hierarchies to spark innovation and initiative.

Boundarylessness, speed, and stretch are three “soft” philosophical concepts that Welch used to create mental paradigm shifts at the individual level, leading to behavioral changes that delivered hard business results to GE’s bottom line.

Welch encountered TREMENDOUS resistance to his attempt to streamline G.E. so it could compete in a 21st-century global economy. Over and over Welch was told: we have no more to give, there is no better way, we have done all we can do. Time after time Welch insisted there was a better way: go back, try again. Try differently, not just harder. Drop the “it can’t be done” mindset, know that there is a better way somewhere.

Boundaryless behavior has led to an obsession for finding a better way——a better idea——be its source a colleague, another GE business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe that will share its ideas and practices…. Zero-sum-thinking did not foresee the immense reservoir of creativity and energy that flows from an engaged work force. – Jack Welch

What Are Some Boundaries?

Anyone who takes on a management and leadership role must know the boundaries they carry. Too often as I open a coaching assignment, I find the person I am helping has a deep collection of very limiting thoughts. You know, the ideas planted in your head by a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or your first boss. Thoughts include statements like:

  • You can’t do that
  • You’re too small
  • You’re too slow
  • You don’t know enough about that
  • You have no experience
  • You have no education
  • Someone else can do that better
  • You failed before
  • We’ve always done it this way.

As some of these very damaging and negative thoughts take root in your consciousness, the natural reaction is to follow the path. Go down the rabbit hole and land at the absolute bottom.

Paint a Different Picture

The remedy is to take the path Welch chose. As a leader we must paint a different picture, challenging the limiting thought with a better belief system. You could think of it as reprogramming. If a thought pattern has emerged in your life, one that sets a boundary on what you can do, you must terminate it.

At GE they proved you can re-imagine the way forward. By intentionally killing off each negative idea, one by one, people can be convinced to begin thinking a new way.

So What?

What are the limiting thoughts, those pesky boundaries, that need to be stamped out in your life? Whether at work or at home, what are the ideas that reverberate in your mind, day after day, causing you to question your effectiveness? Or question the idea you just had? Too many great ideas get killed on the edge of greatness by a limiting belief about what could or should be.

If you are prone to hear some video replay cycling in your head, turn off the program. Unsubscribe to its bad belief. Turn off the recorder. Unfriend the bad idea and open up to new and better possibilities.

Surround yourself with people who have more positive outlooks. It’s way too easy to find problems in the world. Real leaders create solutions. They explore all the possibilities before ever being stopped by a boundary that has no good merit.

[reminder]Can you live with a new mindset of boundarylessness?[/reminder]

 

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How to Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

It’s an old saying you’ve likely heard before. For anyone who owns a business, this phrase is counsel that may be hard to do. For all the owners out there, all three counts in this simple mantra may be nearly impossible.

Lead-follow-getoutofway
Lead-follow-getoutofway

First, to Lead

On one hand that seems obvious. You own the business, who else would be leading it? Well, it might not be you. Leadership is much different from management. You might be managing the dickens out of your business, but still not really leading it.

You might even be crazy busy, but not providing key leadership when it is needed. Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are driven. They have vision. They are inspired to do something great. Yet having those wonderful ideas and inspirations won’t make you a leader. Yes, you will have the power of the position, but you will not be leading.

The drive that makes an entrepreneur want to do something can become your worst enemy. If you suffer from SOS (shiny object syndrome), you will never plot a course for success. The next big thing might be a distraction rather than benefit.

The cure is taking time to learn about leadership. Seek counsel. Unless you are one of the rare few who were exposed to leadership thought and theory along the way, you will need to grow before you become a true leader. Yes, there are an even more rare few who seem to have been with natural leadership talents. Congratulations if this is you. Sadly, for the vast majority, leadership is a refined and leaned skill that must be nurtured.

To Follow

Being a follower is not a bad thing. One of the best leadership principles I was ever taught centered on the idea that in order to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower.

Following is not just blind faith. Rather it is commitment to pay attention t the one who might be leading. Observe the good with the bad. Learn from the experience following others. If you are blessed with a good, perhaps even great leader, watch what they do. Study how they inspire and draw others in.

If, on the other hand, your leader is not so good, be diligent in the discipline of following anyway. The worst case scenario is that you might learn what never to do again.

Get Out of the Way

If either of the first two choices are not available, then door number three is needed; get out of the way. Never become a stumbling block for those around you who might be leading the charge forward with a faithful following. If you are not chosen to lead, and you don’t want to follow, then never be the bad egg who sits and pouts, making trouble for everyone else.

I’ve watched whole careers waste away as someone chooses to be disgruntled over the state of affairs. Others are getting promoted and the ideas that are happening are not acceptable either. Folks with this mindset are very frustrated human beings. You likely have know a few.

The simple answer may have been to merely get out of the way.

[reminder]Where are you today? Are able to lead, follow or get out of the way?[/reminder]

It’s your choice. GO for it!

PS – This post was written weeks ago and scheduled for today. Ironically, where I live, just outside of Houston, Texas, the whole area has been hammered by historic and “catastrophic” rains from Hurricane Harvey that have caused thousands to lose their homes to flooding. Leadership is at a premium. Local leaders, politicians, first-responders, Coast Guard personnel, and dozens of other agencies I can’t even list here have mobilized to respond. Lead , follow, or get out of the way has been the battle cry. I am proud of the ways all parties have circled their efforts to coordinate and collaborate.

Yes, as this event drags out, certainly nerves will fray and exhaustion will set in. Then we will see who the true leaders may be. We will also see who the pretenders are. True leadership will win the day. I have trust in many. They have proven their stripes with similar circumstances and will do so again. Pray for this region as we deal with record-breaking water accumulation, run-off, and flash flooding.

houston-floods

 

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Are You Ready to Take a Chance?

As businesses across the globe begin to ponder their choices for reopening in a post-COVID-19 world, people will be faced with choices. While governmental restrictions dictate some of those choices, it appears all other choices will be left up to the owner/manager. Are you ready to take a chance?

The choices will involve taking chances. How are you set for taking a chance? Here are just a few of the situations I am seeing among the businesses I serve.

Leader making choices

Social distancing is still going to be a ‘rule of the road’. Large companies with grand office footprints are talking about limiting on-site presence, at least for the near future. Ideas like allowing only those employees with enclosed offices to return to work first. Cubicle workers will stay home a bit longer.

Restaurants are looking at separating tables by six feet, reducing seating areas. Stores may keep the Plexiglas panels they have installed at checkout stands.

As an executive, leader or manager making these choices, you create a risk for taking the chance to do something one way or the other. How will you handle that?

The Basis for Decision

Responding to the post-crisis world will be testing your leadership resolve. Do you have the ‘metal’ to stand firm in your convictions about the right thing to do? Clearly acting too soon to deploy large numbers of employees, patrons, or traffic in your facility may tag you an outlier. Are you ready to accept that risk?

The process to make these choices will demonstrate what you have been made of all along. As John Maxwell says:

“Experiences make us, but crisis reveals us.”

How will you be revealed in the face of the crisis around you? As the world finds its new normal, will your leadership character be strong or weak?

Core and Edge Thinking

There is a good explanation for dealing with taking chances as a leader. It has to do with the agility you have in moving from your core out to the edge. Let me explain.

Your Core is the center of your leadership framework. It is made up of all your beliefs, values, and relational experiences. The core includes your technical training and experience too. Likely you have worked hard to develop your leadership core. Just like working on your body’s core at the gym, having a strong leadership core makes you a better leader.

Diagram of core-edge-agility

Your core provides the foundation of who and what you may be as a leader. It inspires your own sense of right and wrong, weak and strong.

However, your core can become your comfort zone too. You might be one who finds safety in staying very close to the core. This can be the downside of relying too much on core strengths.

Then There’s the Edge

For every one of us, there is an edge out there. The edge is the horizon of opportunity and challenge. The edge is where new growth happens. It is often an unknown situation or circumstance.

This is why taking a chance is a good example of being on the edge. The risk that is associated with going out to the edge is what makes leadership challenges so significant.

Explorers love the edge challenge. Finding new horizons.

That is why your willingness to go out to the edge is as much an indicator of your leadership prowess as is your core strength.

Agility

The third dimension of this model is called agility. Agility is a leader’s ability to move smoothly from core thinking to the edge and back again.

On one hand, being willing to freely go out to the edge is good, but if you get stuck there, you’re in trouble. You have to be able to get back to your center, your foundation. Think about Apollo 13.

taking a chance with core, edge and agility

Agility is the beauty of good leadership. Keeping your values high yet exploring new opportunities to grow and prosper your team, your work, and your business. By gracefully going to the edge while maintaining clear visibility of core strengths, you become a trusted leader.

Back to the New Chances

The new normal we are looking to establish represents the edge for all of us. The way we define the edge may be different, but it is an edge nonetheless. If your core cries out for certain values and expectations, but the edge is not clear, you are dealing with taking a big chance.

Your agility will be the factor that determines your success. Ask yourself what it will take to move forward.

Will an old habit of decision making fail you in this new crisis? Will you be afraid to take chances?

Or can you effectively, maybe even boldly, make the right decision to choose next steps for your business? By exercising your agility you can go out to the new edges, do what you have to do, then know you can always return to your core for strength.

Note: Core, Edge, and Agility concepts courtesy of Lee Hecht Harrison

Certain graphics courtesy of 123rf.com and unsplash.com