06 May 2013

A 4-Step plan to get Results as a Leader when Stakes are High.

“Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.”   Ester Buchhol

Think.  Then Act.

Making decisions and taking action is a crucial part of leadership.  You'll never be rewarded for simply knowing stuff.  It’s what you do with what you know that makes all the difference.  

Taking bold and courageous action wins hands down over dithering and indecisiveness.  That doesn’t mean though, that you can do what you like. Considered action is what's required as a leader.  

It serves no purpose, other than to potentially ruin relationships and reputations, to shoot from the hip, go off on tangents or act on a whim. Considered action is paramount.  You must think.  Then act.  

Great leaders know that nothing good comes from unconsidered actions.  Instinctive reactions must be curbed and replaced with considered responses. 

Dealing with issues quickly as a leader is crucial to prevent things from escalating or distorting, but not at the expense of rationale or logic. Give yourself enough time to reflect on available options from an objective rather than emotionally charged position.  

Conversely, don’t leave it so long that you are viewed as an uncaring, ineffective leader who doesn’t deal with the tough issues. 

You may also need to separate yourself from situations that give rise to emotional reactions, to give yourself space to think through options for your response.  

Discipline yourself to consider 3 solutions for the issue at hand.  And consider the consequences and repercussions for each option, not only for yourself but also for all parties involved or impacted by your response.

The human brain has amazing capacity to think through issues.  Don’t fall into the trap of being a lazy leader who operates by default rather being deliberate in what you do.    Everything you do impacts on others and affects your results, either positively or negatively.  Work from a bedrock of core values rather than taking the easy option of running from instinct. We humans have the distinct advantage in our ability to creatively think through solutions and options rather than acting purely from instinct. 

The 4 step plan to Think. Then Act.

When emotions arise, take a step back and Stop, Think, Choose, Act. 

  1. Stop to collect the facts and background circumstances impacting on situations. Never work from assumptions or suppositions.  Gather real evidence to find out what has really taken place.
  2. Think through the issue from every angle and from everyone’s perspective.  Filter your thinking through your core personal and workplace values.  Discipline yourself to determine 3 options before you take any action. 
  3. Choose the appropriate option.  What course of action will achieve the best outcome and suffer the least casualties?   Select the steps required to achieve the most ideal solution.
  4. Act on your decision with boldness and courage as a leader, with the knowledge that you have weighed the options with care and consideration.
Reflect back to the last issue you dealt with where relationships or results were at stake.  What did you do that worked?  What would you do differently now?  What steps will you take when a similar situation occurs to ensure you don’t over-react and regret your actions?

Effective leaders respond, rather than react. Remember to think. Then act.