A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
- Ancient King Solomon, known as the wisest leader in his day
The willingness – and the ability – to “look ahead” and ascertain “what is or could be occurring” is an essential quality for those who are in leadership. No doubt, it can indeed be difficult to accurately assess a situation, size up the factors that are affecting where we are headed, foresee what is on the horizon, and determine what to do in light of the potential realities.
That said, one thing that leaders will NOT do is ignore reality. A Leader will not act like the proverbial head-in-the-sand ostrich, disregarding what is occurring around them and thereby refuse to face what may (or may not) lie ahead. To a leader, such an approach is anathema. It is a dog – and one that simply won’t hunt.
So what are we do when we are faced with volatility in our business, our family, or instability in the world around us? Sometimes a simple approach to weighing the factors affecting our situation can get us moving in a productive direction. Here is just such a process – a simple three-step strategy – which you may find useful during unsteady times:
What IS happening? Answering this question is a good starting point. Making a list of factors that are occurring can begin to bring rational order to an otherwise potentially emotional and/or speculative response during an unstable situation.
What is NOT happening? It is also useful to take careful stock to what is not occurring. Where are the points of stability? What is not shifting or what has not changed? This question combined with the first one can begin to narrow the focus on the precise nature of the challenge and lead to a more rational approach to the next question.
What OPTIONS exist to address the challenge we are facing? What are my options? List them all. Creativity at this point can be our friend. And once every known and/or creative option is listed, the time has come to select one and implement it. And to be clear, sometimes the best action is to pause and not take any action. Time has a way of sorting things out. Yet this should come as a conscious decision, rather than be the result of passivity or fear.
Leaders lead. If it was easy to lead, everyone would do so. Times of challenge are a great opportunity to grow as leaders. To do so, one must look around - and look ahead. A head-in-the-sand approach (or some other dark location) will never result in a leader acting consistent with their responsibility. The best strategy is actually quite straight-forward: lead.