Leadership requires two fundamental skills: the ability to mobilize people and the ability to go the distance. All too often, leaders have a capacity to get people on their side, to rally them around an idea, but lose momentum by forgetting to focus on those key managerial activities that must be sustained to go the distance. Most importantly, these slippages come when leaders fail to realize that while they need not be constantly hands-on, they still have to make sure that they’re involved.
Here’s why leaders drop the ball:
1. They allow too much autonomy: Often leaders give others too much autonomy and walk away from the day-to-day execution. “Do it and come back and tell me when it’s done” is not a mindset that assures sustainability or definite implementation. Leaders must find a way of giving autonomy but defining parameters.
2. They talk things to death: Often too much time is spent processing. It’s one thing to have dialogue, it’s one thing to have numerous discussions. It’s quite another to over-engage and over-analyze. The danger is dropping the ball by processing things to death.
3. They overreact: Often leaders overreact to any situation that doesn’t go exactly as they had hoped. Creating change and putting things in place demands making adjustments. Making adjustments doesn’t mean throwing out the baby with the bath water. It doesn’t mean overreacting.
4. They lose focus on the coalition: Often leaders forget the very coalition mindset, the sense of collective that got people to rally around their ideas, and thus let the coalition mindset slip away. To go the distance, leaders must make sure that the collective doesn’t dissipate.
Often inexperienced leaders spend much of their time making sure that others have rallied around their cause. Those that learn quickly and those that succeed understand that getting people on their side is one thing, but keeping them there is another.
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