Proactive vs. Reactive Leadership in Times of Crisis
With the understanding that it’s necessary to spend time in reactive mode just to keep up with the hour-to-hour changes of business and the world, there is also an opportunity for leaders to make a strategic, conscious effort to be in the proactive space, moving towards recovery and opportunities.
Being proactive means basing the majority of your time on the Vital Few. Accomplish success (and achieve greater sanity) by putting a plan in place to implement the key strategies tied to goal achievement (even if those goals have changed!).
Reactive mode feels like:
- Feeling out of control
- Racing about with constant worry
- Being obsessed or seemingly trapped by the negativity of the crisis
- Letting everyone think it’s okay for you to be the only go-to person for answers
- Extinguishing fires over and over
- Putting forth efforts but getting no change
- Working for the business instead of on the business
If you want to be a more proactive, productive and respected leader, then do these 3 things:
1. Make tough decisions first.
Give yourself uninterrupted, strategic time to think through options and give yourself a deadline for when decisions need to be made. Take the action that is necessary to move forward. Allowing uncertainty to linger forces leaders and teams into limbo where productivity plummets. Make the tough decisions and do what is necessary, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may be. Once you’ve done that, you can start focusing on actions to get you moving forward.
2. Stop being simply “busy.”
Instead, become more effective. Focus fearlessly less on the trivial many or all that distracts you from succeeding with the vital few. Shift your energy and actions to support the critical goals that you know will drive success, rather than investing resources into what pulls you away from it. Remember, busy does not necessarily equate to effective. In fact, people are often “too busy” because they are mismanaging time, prioritizing poorly, or doing all the wrong things. Best to get priorities straight — and leave being busy to the bees!
3. Stop the “busy-ness” of meddling and micromanaging.
Delegate more to others, implement accountability, and reward those who succeed. This will not only lift a big weight off your shoulders, but also help you to focus on the vital few. Assign whatever duties you can to others, keeping more management and leadership tasks for yourself. Require and empower direct reports to bring you more solutions, rather than provide and enable them with the answers yourself. It’s simply not your job to solve everyone’s problems. (If you’re doing that, consider the quality and competency of your hires.) Once you delegate effectively, you’ll have more free time for using it as you see fit and, ideally, in a balanced, more proactive way.