Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! In today’s edition of Hanch’s How-To’s, we discuss the barriers leaders face when moving their company forward. We’ll discuss the dangers of waiting to react to challenges vs. facing them proactively, the value of risk-taking, and how to influence your team’s culture in these areas.
1. Don’t get too comfortable
When a leader is satisfied with the organization's current state, they risk settling for where they are instead of moving people forward. Great leaders have a vision for the future that acknowledges the current situation while working with people to establish goals and a plan to achieve the goals. They never settle for what is and always look for the current challenge or opportunity.
Q: How comfortable are you with where your company/team is right now? What opportunities do you currently see? What keeps you from taking action on those opportunities?
2. Proactive is better than reactive
Being reactive means spending too much time playing the short game and not investing time thinking about the long game. Proactive leadership is about taking time to plan and improve how your team works and putting measures in place to prevent problems before they happen. You have to play both at the same time! This approach requires you to dedicate time to assess your team's talent, the competition, and the available technology.
Q: Do you think you are a proactive leader? Why or why not? What would it take for you to spend more time planning for the future and thinking strategically? What holds you back now?
3. Progressive leaders win more often
The current economic climate has created a season of risk, which has caused many leaders and entrepreneurs to be less progressive. Instead of innovating new strategies or procedures, leaders default to what is safe and unconsciously (or consciously) encourage their team to do the same. Innovation dies when people aren’t trying new things and pushing the envelope, and stagnation sets in. As painful as failure can be, we must understand that strategic leaders cannot learn only from success; they need to recognize the types of failures that turn into successes. They also need to know how to manage the tensions associated with uncertainty and how to recover from failure to try new ventures again.
Q: How comfortable are you taking risks? Why? How would you describe your organization’s current attitude toward risk-taking? What can you do to improve that part of your company’s culture?
1. Think of 3-5 goals that will stretch your team. Start by thinking of three significant challenges you need to address. Don’t worry about the how for now; just challenge yourself to open your mind to the possibilities and allow yourself to be uncomfortable. When you come up with the challenges, take them to your team and ask them to take the limits off their thinking and brainstorm how you can approach these challenges. Use these conversations to create a culture that strives to keep moving forward, even when you are experiencing some level of success.
2. Encourage your team to be proactive. Choose a day in the coming month to ask the following questions in a meeting.
What should we stop doing?
What should we start doing?
What should we continue doing?
How are things now?
How should things be?
What are the barriers to seeing things operate as they should?
What rewards will we see if we can overcome those barriers?
Working with your team will help reinforce your company culture and get buy-in on the solutions you come up with.
3. Challenge yourself to celebrate a failure with your team sometime over the next two weeks. Some failures result from sloppiness or a lack of effort. The kinds of failures you want to celebrate are those that revealed a weakness you didn’t know you had, resulted in an improved process, or were the result of trying something new. You can say that you value failure, but you will only produce employees who are willing to take risks and admit their mistakes when you publicly recognize them.