Responding to the Speed of Change - Part 2

Dec 06, 2023

In the last post, we introduced the concept of Leadership Negligence. The phrase originated in a planning session with my videographer. We were discussing the leadership patterns we often see today, and one of us said, “It’s leadership negligence.” It stuck.

Most leaders find the word “negligence” uncomfortable. It implies that you’re not doing something important in your job. Emotionally, it also connects to job security. If you’re negligent, could you lose your job?

The Definition of Leadership Negligence

I’m a bit of a definition nerd, so I went to my trusty source, Google, to find a definition of negligence. It was helpful. Negligence is “the failure to take proper care of doing something.” It does not mean that you’re a bad person or that you’re about to lose your job. And most of us are not intentionally negligent. It does mean, though, that you didn’t take proper care of doing something. The big question is, “What are leaders not doing properly?” 

In the initial post in this series, we discussed common patterns that happen when the speed of change accelerates. We first pedal faster, trying to keep up. When that doesn’t work, we become hyper results focused and start letting go of stuff. Work is reduced to a perpetual merry-go-round of “doing.” The pivotal thing that is usually tossed aside is developing people to drive growth. Hyper-focused “doing” at the expense of developing your team is leadership negligence. Here’s why.

The Need – Best Decisions Every Day Everywhere to Drive Growth

In a fast-moving world, you, the leader, can’t keep power in your hands and expect to succeed. That’s a fact, not an opinion. Too much is happening too fast to make it possible. Here’s the reality. Every day people on your team make decisions outside of your control that impact the success of your team. What you need are the best decisions every day everywhere that drive growth. You don’t need to be making decisions that other people should be making. That is poor judgement and poor leadership. Does a football coach run onto the field and kick the field goal because he is afraid the kicker will miss it? Of course not. Seems a bit absurd, doesn’t it? Yet this is what I see leaders doing every day. They aren’t confident in their team, so they just do it themselves – all because they are hyper results focused.

If you are not equipping your team to be confident problem solvers and decision makers, you are negligent. You are hoping for success not building for success.

In a previous post I talked about how much time our elite military teams spend preparing, planning, and practicing so that when their services are needed, they are ready to go. This is why they are so phenomenally successful when they are called on to act. We could apply that same pattern to successful athletic teams, musical groups, dancer, researchers, and production teams. They plan, prepare, and the practice so that when it is “go time!” they are ready and energized about creating success.

How much more productive would your team be if you invested the time to ensure that everyone on your team knew answers to the Essential 8 Questions:

  • What are we doing? (The goal)
  • Why are we doing it? (The rationale)
  • How do we do it? (The method)
  • When are we doing it? (The timeline)
  • Who is involved? (The people involved?)
  • What is everyone’s role? (Everyone’s role)
  • How to our actions impact each other? (Impact)
  • What if … happens? (Contingencies)

Are your people thinking, planning, problem solving, and making decisions with the right goals in mind? Or are they doing tasks all day? If they are doing tasks all day, there’s some leadership negligence happening.

Do a little math. Add up the cost of poor decisions and the impact that those decisions have on your bottom line. Development is not optional if you want high performance. You need your team ready and confident when the changes come. The only way for that to happen is to develop them.

In the next post we will explore the 3 most common expressions of leadership negligence.


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