Six Leadership Torpedoes (Part 2 of 2)

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Thanks to Rick for being my guest last week. This week, it’s back to “The Hunt for Red October.”

Today, the final 3 leadership torpedoes. The torpedo bay doors are open, let’s fire tubes 4 through 6…

Being “All In” – Wait – I thought being “all in” was a good thing. Right?

It is. Until it’s not.

Here’s what I mean… when we are passionate about or fully committed to something it becomes a primary focus. Especially if it’s something close to your heart. This is normal and expected.

Unless we begin feeling like we’re more “all in” than everyone else. This can cause bitterness, disillusionment, and even resentment – all wasted emotions which take our eyes off of the prize. Left unchecked, these feelings can tempt leaders to throw in the towel.

It’s important to remember that everyone has their own lives and priorities. Don’t project yours on to theirs. If you do, it can become a personal and professional relational disaster.

Post-Pandemic, many leaders feel an increased need for resiliency. Being mindful of the “all in” torpedo is one way to be more resilient.

Complacency – most leaders are, by nature, anything but complacent.

But, complacency can sneak up on us if we aren’t careful. Here’s how…

You’ve been leaning in hard on your project or initiative. After a great beginning, you run in to the inevitable speed bumps, personnel issues, resource issues, etc.

At this point, depending on your wiring, some leaders push harder and some tend to pull back. I’ll address the latter. Pulling back is often associated with feelings like “this doesn’t matter” or “no one really cares.”

Understandable, especially if circumstances seem beyond your control. If your funk trends upward, you may divert your energy from vital tasks to less meaningful ones in order to feel productive and valued.

Two things I’ve found helpful here…

First, choose 3 to 5 things that you know are within your control and take action on those. When I get discouraged, I do this daily. That way you make steady progress and don’t lose the big picture.

Second, plan your work so you can easily switch gears and make meaningful progress on another project. A break helps reset your perspective and restores energy.

Fatigue – An aphorism attributed to football coach Vince Lombardi says that “fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

All of us get tired. When over-tired we can become discouraged and lose our edge.

At this point, it’s imperative to create margin in your schedule. Ask yourself what is essential to complete next and then choose to put some things aside temporarily.

Take a break. Get outside. Even a five or 10 minute walk in the sun can help. Do it right away. Then, when possible, schedule a longer break for a full recharge.

Project fatigue is real. Especially when late or over budget. It’s tempting to sprint to the finish line. This is a bad call.

Sprinting, by definition, is a short duration boost of speed or effort. It’s an anaerobic activity. Your body can’t sustain a sprint for extended periods. Neither can you or your team.

As in submarine warfare, your best offense is only possible with good defense. If a torpedo takes out your sub, you won’t live to fight another day.

Tune your “leadership sonar” to detect approaching torpedoes. This takes practice and often the help of a trusted confidante, but over time you’ll see them coming and can take “evasive action.”

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