Holding On?

A snowy Thanksgiving made for an eventful holiday this year. Eight-year old Abby and I climbed aboard a toboggan at the top of the sledding hill … and let it fly.

It wasn’t long before we were drifting off course … quickly followed by turning wildly sideways … and topped off by a rather spectacular crash half-way down the slope. Abby was fine, but for me there was a very solid smack to the ribs as I hit the packed snow and rolled to a stop. This was followed by a sheepish trek dragging the sled behind me back to the group watching below, as they just shook their heads, and wondered about my judgment.

I had to face-the-fact I’d lost control when it had been totally up to me to guide us safely along.

What Happened?

Thinking back on what went wrong, there was no obvious and effective way of steering that plastic missile. I had just thoughtlessly sat down, holding on to the rope, and thinking that would set our direction. In reality, holding on to that rope did absolutely nothing to steer the sled. Guiding it was more nuanced than that.

Be Careful What You Hold On To.

All of which makes me wonder, “How many of us in leadership sometimes hold on to the wrong things as we go along?” It doesn’t mean we do them all the time, but it does mean we can occasionally slip up, and have a bad fall.

Things like:

1. Not Listening – what you perceive as the problem is often incorrect.

2. Losing People’s Trust – don’t pretend “it’s someone else” so you don’t have to be embarrassed or admit you were wrong.

3. Dishonesty / Misrepresentation – thinking that misleading people in a small way now won’t cause a bigger problem later.

4. Assuming You Know It All / Have All the Answers – expand your views, because fresh ideas lead to bigger and better results.

5. Poor Communication – confusion, frustration, and a lack of motivation come from poorly explained goals and expectations.

6. Thinking You Can Do It All by Yourself – don’t believe you can be successful without having a competent team surrounding you.

7. Lacking Vision – stagnation, boredom, and dissatisfaction set in when people don’t feel they are going somewhere and doing something important.

Each of these seven things stood out in our “Fault Lines Survey” as the biggest mistakes a leader can make. So if you’re hanging on to any of them, even in passing, you’re likely heading toward an epic failure. Be aware, and let those things go before they lead you into trouble.

With that said … Happy Sledding and have a Joyous and Merry Christmas.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on research on the biggest mistakes a leader can make, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find short insights on Twitter at #FaultLinesSurvey.

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