“The best leaders are the best note takers, the best askers and the best learners.” Tom Peters
Don’t follow the leader sounds kind of counter intuitive doesn’t it? Throughout our working life we’ve been encouraged to identify someone who is successful, someone who has created a certain success and then leverage their success strategies and incorporate for our own benefit. That’s how we’ve learnt. We’ve had the benefit of historical data that was still relevant to the future. We had the luxury of simply being able to tweak or change to ensure these strategies worked even better for us. Unfortunately that’s not a luxury we have any longer. In time (a very short amount of time) that’s not going to work for you.
In primary school or even kindergarten we were taught to follow the leader. There was always someone appointed to lead us outside, on an excursion or during an activity who would pave the way for us or demonstrate what we needed to do. We became great followers and there were those who learnt great leadership. When I think back to my school days and the people who were around me I am often surprised by some of the most successful people. They were the quiet ones, the ones who listened, observed and took great notes. The ones who I thought had no real get up and go.
We can’t simply follow the leader anymore. The leader may have created great success in the past but is now moving into the space of being irrelevant to the future. This is a dangerous place to follow.
We’re going through change that’s unprecedented. The blueprint we used to use that was created from past events for our future plans is now irrelevant if we are going to survive and thrive. So no longer can we look into the past to create out future. We must focus forward and think on our feet. We need to create our own future. And this is a very concerning proposition for many.
What this involves is constantly questioning and shaking up the status quo. The disruptors are doing that well. Think Uber. These innovative minds are constantly thinking how can we shake things up and do things differently? Why are things done this way? They are questioning and challenging the status quo. We simply must do the same.
You’re too busy for this I hear you say? If you’re too busy for this I suggest you’re spending your time on the wrong stuff. And this is the first thing that needs to change.
Never before has it been absolutely critical to your future success to take the time to reflect and question what needs to be done differently, better or what needs to stop or be implemented. The simple STOP, START, CHANGE CONTINUE exercise that should be executed on a regular basis.
As leaders we now have the opportunity to lead from the front. Literally. To shake up paradigms and practices that may have otherwise prevented us from taking positive steps towards our future. We can’t do this on our own. As Helen Keller says “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Your team and/or your circle of influence will play a huge role here. It’s time to shake up our listening, our curiosity our questioning skills to really get a sense of how we can create a blueprint for a future using the collective intelligence we have at our finger tips that we may not have utilized well enough in the past. This is where I would be and will be starting first. Ask questions and listen. And stop following the leader unless the leader has a superb innovative and relevant mindset.