“Take a step back to go forward? Are you nuts?”
Well . . . that’s beside the point. But I am serious.
It’s a Directional Thing
Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward. And good leaders realize this.
How many times have you been driving your car someplace and suddenly realized that you were heading in the wrong direction, or that you took a wrong turn, or that you forgot to take off the little fake map on the screen of that new GPS?
What did you do? You backed up, or turned around, and started moving in the right direction. You are now a little behind in your schedule or goals . . . but you KNOW that you are going where you want to go.
Go back, to go forward.
What would have happened if you had kept going in a misdirected path instead of backing up and recalibrating your course? You would have continued to put more and more distance between yourself and your goals. You would have been miserable. You would have wished you had listened to yourself (or your wife in this instance).
Go back, to go forward.
Getting Good Advice
When I attended the annual American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) Conference in Orlando this week, I finally had the honor of meeting the authors of From Bud To Boss, Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris. I had previewed their remarkable book – prior to launch – this past year.
Guy and I were talking about my past and future, where I wanted to go, and what they could do to help. I had been a little down about taking a job position cut and pay cut to move to Florida a couple of years ago.
But through talking with Guy, I realized that even though I haven’t quite made it all the way back up my totem pole, I’ve had many opportunities in the past two years that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And they are opportunities that WILL continue to lead me back up – and even open up new and exciting doors.
A Reconstructed Leader
Let me give you another example of how this works. How many of you have ever been in the military? What’s the basic premise of boot camp? They break you down and build you back up “properly.” It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, the best way – and quickest – to build you into a military leader is to knock you back and send you on a different path which will make you “all that you can be.”
The next time you Google ‘leaders’, count how many military people (and not just officers) are included.
Sometimes you don’t realize it but you might just need a reality check – kind of like boot camp. Check out the tough love, tell it like it is books by Larry Winget.
In his book, People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!, Winget lays out a list for change for you:
- Decide to change
- Know why it is important for you to change
- Be willing to do whatever it takes to change
- Do whatever it takes to change
- When you fail, dust yourself off and start again
- When you get there, celebrate!
- Move on, and
- Become totally committed.
Make the decision, do what it takes, celebrate (don’t forget that one), and commit. Like the old Nike slogan says, “Just Do It”.
Remember – in whatever you’re doing, or will do, you just may fail or not live up to your own expectations – you’re a leader, not a robot.
A true leader will be prepared for this and will be able to “dust yourself off and start again.”
Sometimes we just need to take a look at where we are and who we are and clear that etch-a-sketch so we can re-learn our jobs, learn something completely new, or just re-energize.
Keep Sight of Things Important
You don’t always have to get so drastic as taking a pay cut or job reduction though. Just get out with your troops and work with them or even attend training with them. Too often, leaders get so bogged down with “the bottom line” that they forget there are people doing the jobs that are determining that bottom line.
Without the real knowledge of what they’re doing and what it takes for them to do it, we lose site of the process.
I bet most of you are familiar with the movie, The Karate Kid. “Wax on. Wax off.”
If you Google the meaning of WOWO you’ll find a multitude of opinions.
- So here’s mine – for this situation anyway. You wax a car to make it look good – to make yourself look good.
- You rub it in and rub it in to get the best shine you possibly can (you continue learning to improve yourself)
- Once it dries (once you hit your ceiling) you wipe it off (you look for things to better yourself).
- Then next month – or next week – you start the process over again with a new job or outlook of your present one.
Lead in the best way that you can. If you think you can, or want to do better, you need to take the necessary steps.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I need a change.”
Keeping Things Clear
Take a good close look at your present situation and your staff. In From Bud to Boss, Kevin and Guy say that, “In its most basic form, vision is a goal or a mental picture of a desired future state or situation.”
To get an idea of what that means for you, Kevin and Guy say to ask yourself a few questions about your vision:
- Is it positive?
- Is it personal?
- Is it possible?
- Is it visual?
- Is it vivid?
If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, maybe it’s time to make some new plans, take some classes, or hang out with the people who know the job procedures better than you.
One of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes goes like this:
“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”
Becoming – and staying – a successful leader is in YOUR hands.
What’s your vision? Do you have a vision – in writing? Are you ready for change?
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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- Who Owns Behavior Change In The Sales Force? – A Key Question For SE Pros From ASTD’s 2011 International Conference (customerthink.com)
- Leadership: Style Vs Substance (blogs.forbes.com)