Organizations and their leaders rarely take a linear path to excellence. Instead, the journey typically will have any number of curves, choke points, and dangerous intersections. As a leader, you must be adaptive to be successful, cutting new paths in order to bring the company back on course and aligned with the organization’s true mission whenever faced with obstacles.
Think about what most of us do every day. We spend most of the workday putting out fires, don’t we? In a world of constant change and increasing demands, uncertainty is the new certainty. Too often we’re trapped in a burning building of crises. No wonder many good people leave otherwise good organizations and teams. They don’t want to be firefighters, and leaders who can adjust to a non-linear path, leaders who are agile, are the best at navigating a winding path full of obstacles.
One day a few years ago, when I was busy beating back the flames at work, I mentioned how hard this putting out fires stuff was to my boss. “Well,” he replied, “you’re not getting paid to put out fires. As a leader, you’re getting paid to prevent them.” This was a defining moment for me as a leader. I realized that I had to be more than a firefighter. I had to become a fire prevention specialist.
This was new thinking for me. It caused me to change some of my behaviors, such as reflecting nightly about what I had accomplished (or not accomplished) that day and what I needed to do to better prepare for the next day. I had to become much more of a proactive leader than a reactive one.
Like organizations, most people don’t take a linear path in their individual journey to develop their personal and professional behaviors to a Level 5 standard. Rather, true leaders recognize that their path to excellence — their team’s path to excellence — is paved with the best intentions, but also lots of twists, turns, ups and downs. The best leaders anticipate these obstacles and navigate them with ease.
Enjoy the journey!!
This blog is based on material from my book “We’re All In.” You can get a copy of the first chapter for free here.
If you’d like a full copy of the entire book, you can get it here.
Enjoy the journey!
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