I recently took the “Accidental Diminisher” quiz offered by the The Wiseman Group and discovered several blindspots that I need to be aware and be intentional about improving. One of these blindspots is my tendency to be a “Rapid Responder” in times of crisis. To summarize the findings of the quiz, I have a tendency to quickly respond to issues in an effort to maintain the pace of my organization and prevent stagnation or stalled progress. The downside to this tendency, and something that definitely rings true for me, is that in my haste to respond to emerging issues I fail to bring my team along with me, opting to make decisions and then pass those decision to my team to execute rather than taking the time to discuss the situation, weigh the options, and develop a solution as a team.
As I reflect back on more than a decade of leading teams I was able to identify several examples of how my quick decision making actually slowed the team down because no one else fully understood my vision, my perception of the problem at hand, or my rationale for coming to the prescribed decision. In each of these cases, I would become frustrated with the lack of speed my decisions were carried out and would eventually begin micromanaging specific actions of my team. Fortunately, in each of my teams I had created a culture of trust that allowed my senior team members to provide me with candid feedback in these moments, forcing me slow down, bring the team together, and explain why these decisions were made.
Looking back on these instances, I am now able to recognize the burden I placed on my teams in these moments. Reflecting on other crisis-type moments throughout my career, where I did not attempt to solve the problem by myself I can identify three key principles that have led to success without creating chaos and frustration within my team.
- Exercising “Tactical” Patience: When crisis strikes it is easy for leaders to “Spring” into action, relying on their experiences and position as a leader to justify their quick solutions. In those moments, the leader should not attempt to be the hero but rather they should seek to bring calmness to the storm. By bringing their team in early, and allowing the team to generate a solution, the leader prevents a solution that is not feasible while also demonstrating an increased level of trust and confidence in their team.
- Seek a Deeper Understanding: Instead of searching for the right solution, leaders should dig for more information to develop a complete understanding of the issue, how it occurred, and what the second- and third-order effects of the issue are. Through these steps leaders may come to realize that the current emergency is actually not as critical as they first thought. With the complete picture in hand, leaders can then begin to work with their team to develop an appropriate solution rather than wasting time and resources based on initial assumptions.
- Ducks on Water: Leaders that are frantically working to solve a problem or micromanage tasks raise the anxiety of their team, adding to the chaos of the current problem. To mitigate this, leaders need to remain calm, instilling confidence and grace in their team. Teams that are able to maintain composure during crisis are much more likely to succeed rather than simply focusing on surviving, and this composure starts with the leader.
Thoughts? Opinions? Examples? We would love to hear your stories in the comments!
Here at Aggregate Project we strive to assist leaders in their efforts to inspire their teams to achieve common goals. Connect with us online, on LinkedIn, or Twitter to continue the conversation.