The difference between a good leader and great leader is that great leaders learn to anticipate rather than react. So how can you determine where things are going? Start by asking:
1. What is happening?
This is also known as situational awareness. Assess the current state of your organization, and be honest. Look at everything: key numbers and metrics, ratios, trends, health of teams, leadership, even the state of mind of your leaders. Leave no stone unturned.
Don’t just look at what is happening inside your organization. Look at what's happening outside, too. See how people relate, behave, learn, consume, do, and learn.
2. Why is it happening?
If something isn't working, find out why. If something is working well, find out why. My friend Andy Stanley says this: “If you don’t know why it’s working when it is, you won’t know how to fix it when it’s not.”
Ask questions—and ask a ton of them! Don't do it
to gather information just to confirm your biases. Ask open-ended questions and absorb feedback and information. Sit on the information overnight, and then start connecting dots. I want my mind to process it overnight: I often miss the important because I’m staring at the obvious.
Don’t let problems, challenges, roadblocks, or competition scare you. You can turn potential threats into opportunities. Problems reveal hidden possibilities, and anticipatory leaders are solving future problems before they become present realities.
3. Where does it need to go?
This is what sets great leaders apart from good ones. They not only understand “what,” or “why,” but also “where.” They chase theories, and they try new things before they're 100% sure if they will work. Train your mind to go beyond the "what" and the "why."
Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader! Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.
Here's an exercise you can do to grow as a leader—ask yourself and your team these questions:
- What is the true current state of your organization?
- Why are you successful? Flat? Struggling?
- Where are we overly confident about the future? What could go wrong?
- What has changed on the outside that could impact what we do?
- If we were starting over today, what are we currently doing that we would not do? Once you name it, ask why you are doing it.
- If you were starting today, what would you attempt? What’s keeping you from trying?
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