Monday, December 20, 2010

Gator nearest the boat

photoexpress  | Julie Balderston
 As leaders of our teams we are always looking to the horizons ,looking for trouble that may be a distraction or hazard to our teams vision or goals. This enables us the ability to steer clear of it or at least prepare for it. But what happens when suddenly you need to alter course?
When the unexpected happens that's when our abilities as Leaders are truly tested. A saying I like to use is, "Let's deal with the gator that's closest to the boat." I use this analogy because priorities can change and often do over time. Sometimes while your dealing with one gator another appears much closer.What separates good leaders from Great leaders are their ability to quickly alter course and then to regain proper course. The following simple steps will help you deal with the, "Gator closest to the boat."

  1. Keep the vision simple: The simpler you can keep your vision the better. If you have to take an hour to describe where the company or team should be heading, you are going to lose people. If your vision has many complex parts, break it down into smaller simple steps. That way if a gator gets to close, your people will have an easier time to know where they are in executing your vision and can deal with the sudden issue and then reset back to the proper course.
  2. Keep reminding: Keep reiterating to your team the relevance of what their doing and why it needs to be done. I'm not saying micro manage them, I'm saying to make sure to keep them focused on the prize. That way when they get distracted by the gator, it's easier to re-focus them on the proper priority. 
  3.  Keep your priorities straight: Even when you have to dodge a gator. Quickly asses how much off intended course you are. If you can, when dealing with the unexpected, try and only pull off the minimal number of people to deal with it. That way the team is still moving in the right direction, maybe not as fast, but at least toward the goal.
  4. Keep Emotion out: When things don't go the way we planned or the gator get's in the boat. Don't let emotion get the best of you. Keep yourself and your team focused on how to correct the problem or how to safely navigate around it. If when, the stress meter hits DEFCON 1, don't start flame throwing everyone and making the problem worse. IF you can keep a level head and focus on how to steer the ship, that will help focus everyone else on what needs to be done. 
  5. Keep Learning: The reason some teams are superhero's are because they are well trained and have prepared for the worse. That way when it comes they can rely on their training and education to quickly overcome obstacles. Make sure you are taking lesson learned from other projects and teaching your team what worked and didn't work and why. That way, you don't get ate by the gator.

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