A Little Book with Big Ideas

Chess Not CheckersA review of Mark Miller’s book, Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game

I have been a fan of Mark Miller’s ever since I heard him speak at a workshop many years ago in Florida. When I first heard him, I wished that his insightful content was available in book form. I heard him speak again several years later and was delighted to hear him say he was working on a book. That was five books ago. Each of his books has hit home with me and helped me grow as a leader. His latest offering, Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game is no exception.

This book continues the fable style that is popular among business authors today. We ride along on Blake’s (a character from previous books) leadership journey as he accelerates his pace as a leader by taking over as the CEO of a small company. Blake soon finds that leadership at this level is more complex than it was in previous roles. The rest of the book describes four moves leaders need to make in order to up their leadership game. I won’t regurgitate the content here. There are other reviews that do that and I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book for yourself. It’s an easy read but has powerful principles that have big impact on how we lead.

Here is how the book impacted my leadership development:

  1. I will plan my departure from the organization my first day at the organization.

As a leader, one of my main jobs is to identify and invest in other leaders. The question that I ask myself is, “What do I want the leadership bench to look like when I leave?” If I have a hard time identifying leaders from day one, I have my work cut out for me. If I can identify a few key people with leadership potential, I can then devise ways of helping them tap into and refine their leadership skills. One principle in the book is, “Bet on Leadership.” For me, that means I need to invest in leadership by talking about leadership and offering resources to help people grow as leaders so that the day I leave the organization, another leader can easily step up and take the group where it needs to go.

  1. I will focus on WE not ME.

We are weary of hearing about selfish CEOs who command multi-million dollar contracts and ride around in corporate jets. It’s easy to get caught up in the perks and power of leadership and forget about the teams we are leading. Leadership is not about us. It’s about the people we lead. Our role is to serve the people under our care. Too often we have seen walls that are built between the leader and the team. In the book, the principle that counteracts this tendency is, “Act as One.” The people we lead need to see and believe that we are on the same side as them. As with most other things, it comes down to what we do rather than what we say. We’re all pulling on the same side of the rope.

  1. I will be humble enough to find a mentor who can help me at this stage of my growth.

The great thing about leadership is that we are never fully formed. There is always room to grow. In the book, Blake gets a new mentor who helps him in his current situation. I’ve found it a matter of Providence that the right mentors come into my life at the right time. There are mentors whom I no longer need because I have learned and gleaned all I possibly could from them at that stage. As my leadership growth needs change, so does my need for specific mentors. We can never believe that we have arrived as leaders, but instead are asking, “Who can I learn from at this stage of my growth?”

Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game challenged me and I will be using it as a resource for many years to come both for myself and for those I lead. I am going to be sharing this book with every person on my leadership team.

promo_01Thank you, Mark for stirring up the potential in those of us whose task it is to continually elevate our leadership game!

 

You can check out a trailer for the book here:

 

Monday Quick Tip ~ No Mo FOMO

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lau Tzu, Chinese Philospher

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out has become a popular phrase that expresses our desire to be engaged with life and what is happening around us or on social media. It sometimes causes people to do stupid stuff. It can sometimes make people feel worse about their lot in life.

As one who tends towards perfectionism, I try to tackle FOMO with a “perfect” plan. The problem is that reality kills perfect plans every time. Perfect plans are an illusion.

As a leader, I want the right people in the right places at the right time, so that my organization hums along with speed and efficiency. But, once again, reality trumps plans. We discover that people are human. They make mistakes. We misjudge their capabilities, setting them up for failure and things come to a screeching halt. All of this failure gives us pause before we start again. We can become so paralyzed that we never get around to starting again.

Funny thing, the longer we wait to start, the further behind we get. Not taking action becomes inefficient. Not taking action means we are missing out.

Today is the day to start. Today is the day to tackle FOMO with a single step. Once we give up our perfect plans, we are free to figure it out as we go. I’ve discovered that the more I think I have it figured out, the more closed I am to suggestions and better ways of doing things.

We all have things we say we are going to start “someday.” What if someday were today?

What project, activity or relationship do you want to take one step towards in order to get momentum started?

It won’t be perfect, but neither will we be missing out on making our unique contribution to the world.

We need you to take that one small step…today.

Monday Quick Tip ~ Set the Pace

Richard Petty Rookie Exp

He who hesitates is lost. 

Adapted from Joseph Addison’s play Cato (1712):”The woman that deliberates is lost.” 

One of the most exhilarating experiences of my life was driving a race car around the Atlanta Motor Speedway in excess of 150 mph.  I was fortunate to take part in a morning session of the Richard Petty Driving Experience.  After a short instruction period, we were led to the track to take our place behind the wheel of a 600 horsepower speed machine.

In session one, I ran 8 laps before being brought in for some coaching by an instructor.  He told me, “You are getting too close to the pace car. Make sure you follow his lead and don’t get so close.”  I kept my distance and did better the second session.  My lap speeds by 10 miles per hour.

It’s been said many times, “Speed of the leader; speed of the team.” We, as leaders, set the pace for our team members.  This is where leadership becomes an art.

If we move too fast for our team, we run the risk of losing touch with those who are following.  Team members become tired from trying to keep up.  Eventually they become discouraged and quit.

If we move too slowly, top team members become bored.  Other members get distracted and have a hard time staying on track.  Petty squabbles and divisions soon cloud pursuit of the mission.

When we find the right balance of pace, the organization’s mission is accomplished in a way that energizes those who follow us.

Balance is the result of knowing ourselves as leaders.  Do we demand perfection or have expectations of our team members that are too high? Do we know the strengths and limitations of our team members?

As leaders, we set the proper pace so that our team members feel great about being a part of our team and accomplishing the organization’s mission.

What tips do you have for setting the right pace? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Monday Quick Tip ~ Don’t Be Fooled by Sunshine and Roses

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things are not always what they seem… – Phadeus, Roman poet

I attended a gathering of leaders recently in which we were going around the room telling how things were going within our teams.  Each of us, except one, stated some good things that were happening as well as some things with which we were struggling.  When it came to one leader in particular, this leader shared that everything was going great!  Wonderful! Good things were constantly happening!  All said with a smile that betrayed believability.  I knew first-hand that things were not in fact all sunshine and roses.  Things were quite the opposite.

As I reflected later on that meeting, I realized that the combined experience of the leaders in the room was over 80 years.  Yet, here was a leader who chose shut off any wisdom from   other leaders in the room who had wrestled with the very same issues and had grown through them.

Why do we unintentionally spurn the wisdom in the room?  Is it to make ourselves look better because we feel inadequate?  Do we want to appear as leaders who have it all together?

None of us have it together.

None of us want to see other leaders fail.  As leaders, it is in our nature to see others succeed, even those in “competition” with us.  We don’t want other leaders to make the same mistakes we did.

When things on our team are not sunshine and roses, the sharp leader is not afraid to admit it and glean from the wisdom in the room.  Instead, they embrace it.

What wisdom can we gather this week that will help us grow in our leadership?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Don’t Take the Blame

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“A poor workman always blames his tools.”

As leaders we are in the business of making others successful.  I had a boss at General Electric who used to say, “Your success is my success.” His words were backed up by a commitment to meet with me regularly, coach me, guide me and make sure I had what I needed to get the job done. He understood that as leaders we are there to serve those we lead.

We provide the tools and resources for our team members to get their jobs done well.

What do our team members need to succeed? Here is a very partial list:

  •        Tools – Computer, phone, supplies, etc.
  •        A listening ear
  •        An open door
  •        Our presence – Encouragement by walking around
  •        Checking in with them
  •        Following up with them
  •        Offer to help – “How can I help you today?” works wonders
  •        Time off maintain balance between work and family

The art of leadership is figuring out what individual team members need in order to succeed. Each person is different.  For some, all it takes is a listening ear. Others need to see us involved and working alongside them.

The above proverb reminds us that poor workers naturally look for others to blame.  Sometimes, that blame is directed at us because we “didn’t train them well enough” (or whatever excuse they want to use).

However, leaders with integrity do what it takes to set their team members up for success.

If a team member doesn’t measure up, it won’t be because the leader didn’t try their best to set them up for success.

In that case the blame will lie squarely with the team member.  We give them what they need to succeed and the rest is up to them.

What are some things you offer your team members to set them up for success?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Focus on Mastery

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“They are a Jack of all trades, but master of none.”

This phrase has been used in a derogatory way to describe a person who is scattered and undisciplined.  We all know people who are so sidetracked they can’t get anything done.  Focus eludes them.  They are driven by distraction.

We know others who are overworked and trying to get so much done that they end up getting nothing done of substance because they are skimming the surface.  Mediocrity is their make-up.

We also have people that we lead who are fantastic at what they do.  They have gained experience, studied from others, listened to their mentors, and worked hard to refine their skills. They have reached a level of mastery and are continually growing.  We can easily spot these people because even when they perform at a high level, they are always trying to figure out how to be better.  They are focused on mastery.  It’s a never ending passion.

One thing I’ve noticed about people who are successful is that they have found their niche.  They are doing what no one else is doing.  There is little competition in their field and they have become so good, that any competition that arises has little chance of succeeding.

As leaders we have to figure out who masters are and what skills they have so that we can put them in the right place on the team.  Once they are there, we give them space, freedom and the tools they need to succeed.

Who are the people on your team who have reached a level of mastery?  How can you inspire them this week?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Admit When You Don’t Know it All

Image courtesy of Nujalee/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Nujalee/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools learn in no other. – Benjamin Franklin

In almost every leadership position we hold there is a honeymoon period that allows us to get settled in and learn the lay of the land.  Very soon reality sets in and we realize there are challenges that are rising to the surface.  Our temptation is to turn on our mental autopilot and try to solve it the way we’ve solved it in the past. But then it doesn’t work.

I’ve discovered that no matter how many years of experience I get under my leadership belt, I run into issues I’ve never faced before.  Every leadership context is different.   An experienced pilot when facing turbulence can’t allow autopilot to take over. Instead, the pilot flies through it.

In the same way,  we can’t afford to go on autopilot thinking that “we’ve seen this before know what to do.”  When I find that attitude creeping in, I know it’s time to check myself.  Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture or don’t know all the facts.

The best leaders admit when they don’t know it all.  They grow with the trials, deepen their experience and sharpen their skill.

Leadership expert Jim Collins, in his famous work on how good companies became great companies, says Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark is one of the greatest CEOs of the twentieth century.  Collins says, “Smith, a man who never entirely erased his own self-doubts, later summed up his tenure by saying simply, ‘I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job.’” (http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/the-misguided-mixup.html)

Our experience informs the present to help us figure out what to do.  It begins with the attitude of humility.  Celebrity leaders rise only as high as the moment they think they know it all then they fall.

Leaders who last rise to the challenge and grow through the new experience.

Rick Pitino, championship basketball coach, writes, “The longer I live and the more I experience, the more I believe that humility is the quality essential to sustained success, and a lack of it is the major stumbling block for those who find success for a time, then lose it.” (The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life­)

Could it be time to turn off autopilot and fly the plane?

What challenges are you facing that require a humble attitude and the willingness to learn something new?

Monday Quick Tip ~ We Are What We Think

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. ~ Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor & Philosopher

Our life is what our thoughts make it ~ Marcus Aurelius

It’s true that garbage in leads to garbage out.  We can get a serious case of “stinking thinking” when we continually think about what could go wrong instead of the potential of what could go right.

As leaders, our thinking is critical to the attitude and morale of the people we lead.

If we feast our minds on a diet of the worst case scenario our actions will reveal our thoughts.  Playing it safe instead of going for it or giving up on pursuing our dreams started when we tasted the fruit of negativity.

Examples of stinking thinking include:

  • Overgeneralization – using words like “always” and “never”
  • Habitually looking for and finding the negative in people and situations
  • Discounting the positive
  • Predicting negative outcomes before giving it fair trial

When we give our minds clean, wholesome positive information and images, positive words and actions will follow.

The bottom line is that we become what we think about.

Think good thoughts this week and the people we lead will thank us.

Monday Quick Tip ~ Silence is Golden

Man with tape

Image courtesy of Stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Silence is golden and I want to be rich” was my teacher’s way of getting us 2nd graders to be quiet and listen.  The phrase, “silence is golden” has been around for centuries.

Wise leaders know when to speak up and when to give their tongues a rest.  It is no secret that our mouth gets us into trouble. That’s not only true about our work life, but all of life.

Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, writes about getting along with the significant people in our life.  I love the three questions that she says we need to ask ourselves before we speak our mind:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me right now

“If the answer is yes to each one then it’s time to sit down and have a reasonable discussion. If it’s no then let it go.” (Check out Jacqueline’s post here)

We encounter circumstances daily when it is best to say nothing.

Silence is golden when:

Speaking will not help the situation but may make it worse.

We need to think clearly about an issue or problem we are facing.

We need to pray.  Prayer is not always talking, but about listening for the “still small voice.”

We need to focus and get undistracted quality work done.

We need sleep.  Noisy neighbors and barking dogs can make sleep a challenge.

This week there are opportunities for us to “be rich.”

Take time to enjoy the benefits of silence.

Guard Your Heart

heart-of-L-10-linkThis is a guest post from Mark Miller.  Mark’s latest book is, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow.

Originally Posted on greatleadersserve.org on Wednesday, September 4, 2013

GUARD YOUR HEART!

The Heart of Leadership is built upon a simple premise: unless your heart is right, no one cares about your skills. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. If people don’t trust our heart, they don’t trust us. If they don’t trust us – they won’t follow our leadership.

That’s the idea the book is built upon, and when we demonstrate leadership character, others see it. They see it as leadership character in action. They see it when we…

HUNGER FOR WISDOM

EXPECT THE BEST

ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

RESPOND WITH COURAGE

THINK OTHERS FIRST

But why does this matter? Aren’t we just supposed to get results? If you’ve been leading long, you know you can get results without creating follow-ship. Results can be the byproduct of a very toxic workplace and poor relationships with those you lead. The irony of this approach is two-fold. It is not the way to maximize results. And, it is not sustainable over the long haul.

There is a vast reservoir of untapped potential in most people and in turn, most organizations — potential that goes unused and wasted. It resides in the discretionary efforts of our people. The day of the hired hands is dead. Leaders operating from that perspective are the dinosaurs of our day. As Peter Drucker said, “We are all knowledge workers.” The implications for leaders…

For every pair of hands you hire, you get a free brain.

Our challenge is to create the context and the work environment to mine that potential, to capitalize on that FREE brain. It starts with us. People don’t leave organizations, they leave their supervisor. Are we becoming leaders people want to follow? Or, are we driving talent away from our team?

Yes, we need the skills of leadership. I’ve devoted decades of my life to helping leaders acquire the requisite skills to lead well, but skills alone are not the answer. I’ll go back to where I started this post and to the premise of the book. If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. You and I will be dismissed as a leader if all we bring to the table are skills.

Leaders rarely fail for lack of skills. Certainly you can find examples of this, but in my experience, for every leader who fails because she can’t build a team or cast vision, countless others disqualify themselves for issues of the heart. The good news, we can change the condition of our heart. If we couldn’t, I wouldn’t have written the book.

So, what’s my point? I want to encourage you to be vigilant and diligent – give adequate attention to matters of the heart. It is much more important than most leaders think – it is critical. These are not soft issues; these are issues that ultimately determine our impact on the world!

There is an ancient proverb that summarizes why the matters of the heart matter so much – it captures my thoughts as well as I could ever hope to…

ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART. EVERYTHING YOU DO FLOWS FROM IT.

MarkMiller_About_179x240_050813Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

Monday Quick Tip ~ Read, Lead and Succeed

heart-of-L-4b-linkA Review of The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow,by Mark Miller

Mark Miller’s latest book, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow is a short, simple yet powerful read.  It continues the story of Blake from one of Mark’s earlier books, Great Leaders Grow.  But you don’t have to have read the previous book to be up to speed with what is happening in this edition.

I found Mark’s tone to be conversational and warm. He’s not preachy and writes as one who is a fellow traveler on the road of leadership growth.  He doesn’t talk down but instead honors his readers by pointing out road signs along the way.

I resonated with one of the central themes of the book that leadership character matters more than leadership skills.  As we grow deeper in character, the necessary skill mastery will come in time.  It is true that we’ve seen too many highly skilled leaders derail themselves by their lack of character.  Miller reminds us not to put the cart before the horse.

Using the well-traveled metaphor of an iceberg, Mark asserts that 90% of leadership happens below the waterline.  Then he goes to work defining the essential elements of those below the waterline traits that we need to lead well.

I liked how the elements were told though a variety of people in different settings.  Too often I’ve found leadership books to be too narrowly focused on marketplace leadership leaving out the arenas of non-profits, education and community groups. The effect was that we are able to see how the concepts are applicable to a myriad of situations.

While the book is simple, it is not simplistic.  The character traits mentioned here will take a lifetime of practice to master.  This is not a bad thing because it reminds us that none of us have arrived as leaders. We’re all still learners among leaders.

The element that meant the most to me was the section on responding with courage.  As leaders, responding with courage is a daily occurrence as we tackle the challenges that come our way.  Mark reminds us that courage takes the actions necessary to correct the situation.

This is one of the best leadership books I’ve read this year.  It is one that I will read again and again so that I can continue to be reminded of its principles and apply them to my leadership.

Read this book and you will discover that it is not a 5 hour energy shot for your leadership skills, but rather a multi-vitamin for your leadership soul.

Enter to win:  I am giving away 10 copies of The Heart of Leadership to my blog readers.  You can enter to win by signing up to follow my blog between now and October 31, 2013. I will choose 10 winners at random. If you are already a follower, you are already entered to win! Good luck!

 

Monday Quick Tip ~ Find Your Song

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Those who wish to sing, always find a song.  ~ Swedish Proverb

As leaders we set the tone for the teams we lead.  If we have a negative, small, critical attitude, we will soon experience the same among our team members.

A story I read years ago in Max Lucado’s book In the Eye of the Storm illustrates the effects of letting life steal our energy.

Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.

The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner.  She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage.  The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up.  She’d barely said “hello” when “ssssopp!” Chippie got sucked in.

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie — still alive, but stunned.

Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water.  Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.

Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering.  “Well,” she replied, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore — he just sits and stares.”

It’s hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.  (In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11)

Bad things happen to good leaders.  It can sap our energy and harden our attitude, if we let it.

Sometimes a little attitude adjustment is in order.

Here are some things to sing about:

  • That you don’t have to lead alone, you have a team to help you.
  • The individual skills and talents of your team members
  • That you get the honor of leading others.
  • That you are growing and are farther along the road this week than you were last week.
  • That this is a new week and you will make progress toward your vision this week.

As country music legend Willie Nelson sings,

Without a song, the day would never end
Without a song, the road would never bend
When things go wrong, a man ain’t got a friend
Without a song!

It’s up to us to find something to sing about.  When we find it, don’t sit and stare… SING!

What song will you sing this week?

Monday Quick Tip ~ You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it” – Yogi Berra

Life is a lot like the television show, “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Life forces us to make choices.  We can trade the benefits of one thing for the greater benefits of another.

The wise leader knows when to trade one thing for another.

We’d like to think that all of our trade-offs are trade-ups, but reality says otherwise.

Sometimes our choices are between “the lesser of two evils” as the saying goes.

We’d like to have a flea less dog or a hairball free cat. There is no such thing. Imperfection is a part of life.  As one of my friends used to say, “The fleas come with the dog.  If you want the dog, you’re going have to figure out how to deal with the fleas.”

That’s good life advice, too.  With our choices come consequences.  As leaders we have choices in how we use the resources we’ve been given: personnel, budget allocation, and time management.  We can’t hire everyone we’d like to or spend money on everything or be everywhere all the time.

Here are a few choices we’re faced with:

  • Superficial abundance or deep little
  • Comfortable familiarity or uncomfortable unknown
  • Laser-like focus or scattered distraction
  • Demanding excellence or low effort average

What choices are facing you this week?

What consequences are you willing to accept?

“While we don’t always get what we want, we always get what we choose.” – John Maxwell in The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

Monday Quick Tip ~ Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I believe in being cautiously optimistic.  Good expectations and positive visions of the future are part of our make up as leaders.  We imagine the projects we oversee as successful long before anyone else does. For the most part, it’s a strength.

But as with any strength, this can also be a weakness.

It becomes a weakness when we get ahead of ourselves and act as if it has already happened.  We take things for granted.  We assume too much and it comes back to bite us.

It is good to have tentative plans so that when the good thing we are expecting happens, we are prepared for it.

The other side is waiting until the good thing we are expecting has actually happened before we make any specific concrete plans about it.

In college, I was told by a friend that he would send $100 per month to help with expenses.  If I went to graduate school, it would be $150 per month.  I planned my budget accordingly.  In the 7 years of school, guess how much I got?  $100 total.  I got a dead chicken.

The chicken we thought was in the egg may be dead.

A healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way.  Experience is a painful teacher at this point. We’ve had too many things fall through at the last minute.

We can strike a balance by being cautiously optimistic. Don’t spend your Christmas bonus before you have it in hand.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

What are you counting on this week that you may need to reconsider?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Don’t Cross the Bridge Until You Come to It

Image courtesy of Phonsawat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Phonsawat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As leaders we are people of responsibility.

We plan.

We worry.

We take risks.

We think ahead.

We try to stay at least one step ahead of our followers.

I’ve discovered that my “futuristic” strength (See Strengths Finder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath) has a downside in that I can sometimes imagine problems and challenges where none exist. When that happens, my energy is redirected and drained.  I lose focus on the present.

Planning and thinking ahead is important, but we live in the here and now.  We can live in the “there” and miss the “here.”

We can get so far ahead of our team members in our thinking that we miss what is happening in their lives now.

What’s the value in not crossing the bridge too soon?

We can be flexible and adjust as needed.  Conditions change constantly.

Things happen to us that are out of our control.

If we rigidly adhere to a plan, we may take a path that no longer meets our goals or the needs of our team.

Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it is a reminder to be adaptable enough to make adjustments as conditions change.  It’s also a reminder to not allow unnecessary worry to drain our energy.

There are times when leaders are like the captain of a speed boat that takes a direct line across the lake.

There are other times when leaders are like the captain of the sailboat that has no direct path, but adjusts as the conditions change.

What bridges are you crossing that you have not come to yet?