As managers we are responsible for seeing to it that the right things go well. That involves keeping extraneous things off our team’s plate, putting more W’s than L’s on the scoreboard, and finding ways to identify and correct (or prevent outright) the things that contribute to team losses.
Looking back over my career, and at the habits of some of the leaders I’ve coached, there have been unmistakeable periods when we’ve allowed ourselves to get too mired in the mud, concentrating on errors of the past, present, and future.
It’s easy to understand how we get in that mode. Mistakes and losses sting, sometimes a lot. A couple of really big ones, or a long losing streak can take us out of the game, or at least bring beatings from on high. Yet, when we get stuck in “Loss-Prevention Mode”, we’re often doing so at the expense of clear and present opportunities to get some things right. As importantly, when we get stuck for too long in firefighting mode, it has a negative impact not just on our own outlook, but the people around us as well. They don’t want to be in the same zip code (never mind the same boat) with us.
Here are four suggestions for maintaining an appropriate sense of balance:
- Always be looking for opportunities to create a win, even little ones.
- Don’t become a negative person, and don’t let negative people (or thoughts) take up rent-free residence in your head. As Australian businessman Robert Tew, put it, “Raise the rent…Kick them out.”
- Make it a point to always have some truth-tellers on your team, people who care enough about you and the team’s mission to come in, close the door, and level with you… to tell you, for example, that you are in need of some attitude adjustment.
- Become a two-fer leader by trying, as a general rule, to always be feeding at least two opportunities or identifying things done well for every problem you’re working to smother.
If you’ve got more to add on this subject, or care to take the discussion further, we would be glad to hear from you.