As I sat across the table from a friend, he shared a conversation he just had with the senior leader of his organization.
The conversation was about the business issues facing the organization, the importance of solving some pressing issues and the need to change. He was trying to sort through the leader’s comment…
“Yes, those are big issues and we will need to have answers. But I won’t be here long and it will be some else’s problem to solve.”
Wow. There were really no words to describe the shock. This was the senior most leader of the company. He essentially said that he had given up on the future.
It was clear the leader was missing the primary role of a leader. The prerequisite is to believe in a future, stay grounded in the reality of the business and put a plan in place that drives to the best possible outcomes.
Leadership doesn’t get to decide it’s too hard. You don’t get to say “I don’t have the energy to make it happen” or “I will leave it to someone else to solve.” A leader must create the plan, plant the seeds well BEFORE they are needed so the future can be bright AND ensure the transition to the future and potential new leader is built on a strong base.
It was the third time in my career I experienced a similar conversation and the first time for my friend. In all cases, the organizations lost their traction and were unable to build momentum for a future. They never optimized their futures.
Is it any surprise? Even if you have the best people, organizations cannot overcome the void of leadership. Your only option is to come to terms with the reality, begin your focus on your OWN next chapter.
And as a leader you need to know it’s really hard. Because you can see the potential, can see the waste and the misalignment. And you know that if corrected it could alter the results. But when the senior most leadership doesn’t see it and doesn’t put forth the effort to REALLY understand it, no amount of YOUR commitment to the future of the organization will matter. I know, you will try to convince yourself you can wait it out, you can rally the team or put in some extra effort to make a difference. I did too. The reality is you may slow the trend but it is headed in the wrong direction.
And you can’t fix it…
Leading your life means you must believe in YOUR future. It means you put YOUR PLAN in place to optimize YOU, create an environment that lets you do your BEST work and concentrate your energy where you can have the most IMPACT.
It is up to you and no one else. Committing to lead means you must put yourself in the greatest position to lead others.
Have you seen the same thing? I look forward to hearing your perspective and how you have lead your life during these times.