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Are You Caught in the Trap?

By December 15, 2016February 14th, 2019Articles, Leadership

We can all be guilty of it, especially at this time of year! Being caught in the busy trap.

A consequence of being caught in the busy trap is that you become totally reactive and distracted. You lack clarity, focus and drive; you run blind and hope for the best; you also have the horrible feeling of being out of control.

Being reactive in business is exhausting, frustrating and unsustainable.

You’re constantly ‘fire fighting’, putting out infernos that are likely started thanks to your lack of an adequate safety plan.

As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: ‘You can’t hit a target you can’t see.’ So while the scatter-gun approach may work in the short term as a quick fix, it’s definitely not a strategy for success.

When you’re busy being busy and feeling out of control, you default to the past, and fall into old traps and behaviours. This is a dangerous place to be. This is where you start to become irrelevant, and fall behind your competitors.

If you’re a leader and you’re stuck on reactive and busy then you could model the following behaviours:

  • use excuses and blame others for mistakes
  • are a victim of circumstance
  • cultivate the wrong culture
  • fail to understand your priorities
  • role model the wrong behaviours to your team
  • compromise what is important to you
  • avoid difficult but necessary conversations
  • fail to coach and motivate your team
  • miss valuable connections with your stakeholders
  • lack clarity on your direction
  • limit your thinking
  • communicate and listen poorly to others
  • miss out on opportunities.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when you are proactive your experience is very different. Rather than defaulting to the past, you are forward focused and have vision. You are motivated, clear on your priorities and have that wonderful feeling of being in control. Being a proactive leader means modelling the following behaviours:

  • think strategically
  • know your priorities and be efficient
  • collaborate and engage with your team
  • coach and mentor your team
  • ensure your culture is inclusive and diverse
  • be aware of when you need to zig or zag (flexibility)
  • listen and understand your team and clients
  • confront situations and deal with them in a timely manner
  • be decisive
  • be courageous
  • role model the behaviours you expect from your team
  • be optimistic in times of adversity.

Some leaders like to swing ‘both ways’, actually seeming to enjoy the adrenalin ride that comes with being reactive. However, this is not a sustainable place to be. I absolutely agree that it is rare to be proactive 100% of the time as things just happen in business and we can’t predict every situation. However, it is unsustainable to be reactive all of the time.

If you are going to choose to operate at a high level, hold yourself to a high standard and be a positive role model to your team, you need to be operating far more often as a proactive leader.

In order to ensure your leadership is relevant and that you are steering your business on a relevant path, you must be able to identify possibility through times of adversity. As Dan Rockwell, writer of the Leadership Freak blog says: ‘People who feel powerless sleepwalk through opportunities, view change as threatening and hide behind obstacles.’

At this time of year especially you need to stop and ask yourself: What is all of this costing me? What do I need to do to turn things around? And then put plans in place to change it for an improved 2017.