Today’s leaders move fast. The combination of business, technology, and worldwide competition makes it essential for success.
Speed reigns when responding to requests for proposals, jumping on new opportunities, and completing projects in a timely manner.
But speed can also be a major liability if it means important details are overlooked – or worse, ignored.
“We need to have the Legal department review this document one more time.”
“It is fine, just let it go. We have to get this out right away.”
That little conversation right there has the potential to lay the groundwork for a class action lawsuit.
The point here is this:
A good leader knows when to go fast and when to hold the reins just long enough to cover the important details.
As a fast-driving leader, I love a good shortcut. But I’ve learned through the years to pay attention to the details (and even better, to work with those who ensure the details are covered).
A smart leader will know when to take a shortcut, and when to slow the pace.
Here are some examples of GOOD SHORTCUTS
The old adage holds true: those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. If you want to move forward in a smart way, learn from the history of others. It will save you the time and expense of having to start over when you realize you have made a mistake. Everyone fails at some points in life and career, but you can take a shortcut around some of those pitfalls by learning from the mistakes of others.
If there is something you don’t know, you can spend years trying to learn it on your own, or you can fast-track by learning from someone who already knows the ropes. This is why companies who are investing in leadership and team development have a stronger workforce these days. They are fast-tracking their leaders across the organization via education. This gives them the advantage of being able to hit the ground running when new opportunities for growth arise.
Many businesses try new ventures but don’t quite hit the mark. They may give up before the finish line, when they were actually very close to winning. Where you as a leader see potential in their failed experiments, study what they did right and what they did wrong, and then proceed with your own. And here’s the key: YOU be the finisher.
This may be the most valuable shortcut factor today: engagement. Train yourself as a leader to engage quickly. Initiate conversations. Be the first to submit proposals. Keep your ear to the ground regarding new opportunities and move quickly. Connect quickly on the front side conversations and deliver quickly on the back end commitments.
Here are some examples of BAD SHORTCUTS
For many leaders, details are the nemesis of progress. The last thing you want to hear, when you are about to launch a major initiative, is, “Wait!” While it is essential to move operations forward quickly, it is just as essential to move them forward well. The value of legal, accounting, compliance, and quality control is just as important as marketing and sales. Having a team with balanced strengths gives you this balance of speed and detail. Whatever you do, do not skip critical details.
Leaders must have a solid process for making good decisions. While those decisions must be made promptly, good leaders will give themselves just enough time to weigh the matter wisely, get counsel, and then make a solid decision. While making a snap decision without thought or counsel may seem like a shortcut, there are times when it can result in total derailment. Decide promptly, but avoid shortcuts!
Many leaders, in their drive to success, shortcut their own personal development. Over time, work becomes an addiction; and, like all addictions, it affects everything from health to relationships to personal finances to mental health. No matter how busy you are as a leader, always remember there is life outside the corner office. A balanced leader is also a more effective and influential leader.
Leaders want to see results right away. The problem is, in the design phase, you can’t see progress. This is why many leaders just forge ahead. Theirs is a chaotic “Fire-Aim-Ready” model where the planning is reactive and looks more like problem solving because they did not plan first. If you think planning holds up progress, just wait until it all comes to a screeching halt because you have a major problem to solve. Allow time for planning. Not forever, but allow time for it. You will be glad you did!
Patience is, indeed a virtue. Unfortunately, it is a virtue many leaders do not readily possess. It takes time to meet with your team, share the vision, explain the goals, communicate, and answer questions. For this reason, leaders may choose to “do it themselves” or tell their people to “just figure it out” or not even communicate at all. All of these approaches are shortcuts; and all of them are wrong. They will not save you time; they will end up costing you much more time and money in the long run. Train your team to be leaders. Invest the time in giving them direction and guidance. The payoffs will surprise you.
As a leader, should you take shortcuts?
The answer is…YES!
Leadership is about knowing the shortcuts to take and the shortcuts to avoid.
Looking for a GOOD shortcut to get you and your team ahead of the game? Consider the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.