Reel in Reactive Leadership

 ​As a leader, do you ever feel like you’re moving from one problem to another, putting out fires, problem-solving for your employees, or “saving the day,” but on a few too many days? You’re not alone. Lots of leaders have this reactive leadership habit, which basically means that instead of them running the show in a proactive, strategic manner, everything and everyone is running them! Interestingly, some leaders believe effective leadership looks like reactive leadership, yet nothing could be farther from the truth. As a leader, your primary role is to focus on what’s vital, those 20 percent of activities that will drive 80 percent of your organization’s success. You can’t do that if you’re playing a superhero role, using up all your time, energy and resources on what’s trivial or what other people can be empowered to do.

Need to reel in that reactive leadership style? Try the following:

1.    Take responsibility for the reactivity. Don’t beat yourself up about it—but do own it, then recognize that it’s up to you to change it.

2.    Delegate more. When problems crop up and employees turn to you for help, ask them to trouble-shoot instead. Challenge them to come up with three potential solutions, then work with them to help them choose the best of the three if they are still unable to make the decision among themselves.

3.    Empower your people. Employees may be coming to you for help or in crisis because they don’t have the right training, tools or resources for their jobs. For example, does their constantly crashing computer system need new software or to be replaced? Do people need more time dedicated to certain challenges in their jobs? Do they need to attend classes to learn how to do something that, until now, only you could do for them? Conduct an internal needs assessment, prioritize what you discover, and start getting your people what they need to do their jobs more independently and effectively.

4.    Create measures for accountability. One of MAP’s clients, Rick McPheeters, CEO of Alta Construction, shares in this video how he realized his company was operating in a reactionary style. Using the MAP Management System and with the guidance of his MAP consultant, Rick created a number of new measures of accountability, particularly around customer service and resources. With this system and in tracking the right measures, he and his employees found they could better respond to challenges and even get ahead of them, which had a direct, positive impact on the business’ sales and worth.

5.    Plan each day. Push back on that reactive leadership style by becoming a better planner. One easy way to do this is to take time out every afternoon or evening to review tomorrow’s calendar, write out a short list of must-dos, or what’s vital to your goals and strategies, and carve in the time to get those things done.

What verbal or nonverbal cues can help us notice and change reactive leadership tendencie


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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