One of the most important things of leaders is to ensure that the organisation is learning. Only those who dare to challenge their operations before the environment does, will survive on the long run.
For the most people there are two things that make learning difficult. The first one is that our brain sees changes as risks and the second one is the busy life where we seem to lack the time. Learning is about the organisational culture. Culture is the outcome of the leaders behaviour. There is no other person, that can and does have as much impact on the culture than the leader. Leaders don’t like to be seen having made a mistake. They don’t like to tell people, not to mention the boar, that they got lost to a sidetrack. The downside of this is that the thinking window gets smaller and smaller. There is only one “truth” regardless of what happens in the business environment. This is what killed the original Nokia phone!
Balancing between staying on the safe old track and getting lost in some areas is not easy. Perhaps you have seen those videos / sport news clips about rally drivers? Even on a straight ahead road the driver is constantly working with the driving wheel. They want to have full understanding of the grip and keep the tyres as functional as possible. This is what getting lost means. You are making small, but very important, little try outs. Having full control of the environment and knowing your grip. If you don’t prepare your tyres for the forthcoming turn, you may end up having very hectic moments, or get out of the race. When you your organisation is living the culture of small try outs, they are ready for any turn!
For the leader, who should spend about 60 % of his/her time thinking about the future, there must be constantly sidetracks. You need to get lost from the traditional process your organisation has had. That is the way to learn, what to keep, what to update and what to get rid off. Leaders need to be adaptable and to love to study different approaches and solutions. Those who do, will eventually find a new approach, which is building the winning solution. At the same time the leader needs to ensure that the people will not be exhausted by too many changes too often.
The comfort zone of a leader is larger than that of the majority of employees. If the leader is on the outer edge of his/her comfort zone a lot, and keeps the organisation there too, people will be stressed and afraid. People will start to question themselves (sometimes subconsciously): “what will happen to me”. And the way our brain is built, the primary assumption is “something bad”. Then even the little adjustments needed become difficult. Everybody can get lost, we all do. Getting lost in a smart way is a skill of the best leaders.
The best leaders and the best organisation have a culture where getting lost = learning about new approaches is appreciated. As you dare to love getting lost, only then you can accept that sometimes you have lost the best direction. Accepting that is the key to recovery and corrective actions. If you don’t accept that you might have lost the road to success, you eventually will lose it!
The safe and effective way for a leader to “play” with sidetracks is working with a coach. Having regular meetings with coach and external specialists is the way used by the leading organisations and the best leaders. The outsider doesn’t have the right answers, but they get you to think about new questions, they take you deeper to the root causes. They help you to challenge your path, before the competition does!
Do you want to know how to be a great leader? Would you like to try coaching? Get in touch, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org