Leadership sinkholes

by Rod Smith

Managing will consume you. If you don’t watch your step you’ll be seduced into thinking that managing IS leading. The two will become confused and leading will morph into managing – not the reverse. Endless administrative tasks will drown you. The risk-averse, the anxious employees among you (mostly managers) will exercise power and keep you managing to keep you from leading. They are managers. That’s what they do. Of course they will try to manage you. Then, the very same people will complain, “There’s just no leadership around here!” It’s a sinkhole. Avoid it.

Over-listening to whiners. If you allow the whiners among you too much of an ear they will drown out healthy voices. Whiners are often very aggressive, especially when ignored. They’ll feel entitled to shape your job. Don’t let them. Whiners are NEVER satisfied. Whatever you do will never stop their whining. Listen to whiners, yes, but listen to the healthy, the enthusiastic, and the busy, motivated people six times as much. Pole-vault this sinkhole.

Tripping over the remains of your predecessor. I am all for honoring the past, but leaders must determinedly point to a greater future. Resist the understandable urge to protect the memory of whomever you follow, especially if you are doing it in the hopes of gaining acceptance from those who loved the previous leader. It’s a sinkhole. Flee it.

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