Tethered to a mobile device, laptop, or desktop responding to emails and phone calls. Putting out fires like some help desk ninja. Drowning in reactive mode. Everything is important. Everything is urgent. Everything needs attention right now. Pronto!
Is this the role of a leader? I think not.
Many “leaders” spend too much time in reactive mode. Those who do this are not really leaders, they are highly paid help desk clerks. Don’t get me wrong, solving problems is a function of leadership; however, so is taking the time to disconnect and engage in proactive activities that produce the next big idea. The next big revenue driver. The next big thing that separates the team from the pack of reactive competitors.
Being a proactive leader requires taking a step back from the day-to-day operation to work on the business as opposed to working in the business. The business will not improve and flourish unless new thinking and new ideas evolve.
Chances are you think you are a proactive leader because you are “always thinking” about ways to improve your business. Rarely does this “always thinking” mode create the kind of breakthrough idea that make a significant difference because your mind is cluttered with too much other stuff.
Here’s a question you should ask yourself—it will reveal if you are a proactive leader: What idea have I developed and executed in the past few months that has significantly improved the performance of my organization?
If you have something, congratulations you are a proactive leader!
If not, it is time for a change!
The Transformation Process
Most “leaders” do not invest time and energy in proactive activities to work on their businesses. Here’s a process you can follow to break the cycle, and move away from being a reactive manager:
- Schedule time on your calendar to enter the proactive zone. Sixty minutes every few days will suffice. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that doing this once a month or once a quarter will make a difference. Even worse, thinking that doing this as needed — the best ideas rarely appear during a crisis.
- Unplug and disconnect from technology. All you need is your brain, a note pad, and something to write with. Find a space that gets you away from the hustle and bustle.
- Dream. Dream big. Dream wild. Dream of things that have never been done before.
- Write things down and share them with the others on your team.
- Decide. Remember one rule when deciding what ideas (dreams) to pursue: all ideas must support the mission of your organization.
- Execute. Take some dreams for a ride and see how they work. Tweak along the way.
Encourage other leaders on the team to do the same.
Clear your mind. Clear your deck. And real ideas will flow.
Reactive manager or proactive leader. The choice is yours! The success of your organization depends on it.