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The Choice: Take control or make excuses
May 4, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment
Things happen for a reason. There is always an explanation for an outcome … whether it is good or bad. It can be an inspiring story of a leader stepping up and taking control of his or her reality to create the best possible outcome. In contrast, it can be a docudrama describing all of the real, and perceived, obstacles and hurdles that prevented the most desirable outcome. Before the elements of the inspiring story or docudrama explanations begin to unfold, the leader makes a choice to take control or begin manufacturing excuses. It’s a choice to take control your own destiny or abdicate control and mask the outcome with excuses.
Stepping up and taking control is what leaders are supposed to do. As a leader, you’re supposed to be fearless, focused and inspiring to lead your company through good times and bad. However, leaders are not superheroes able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Leaders are a collection of skills, strengths and weaknesses. Some leaders step up and take control with ease … but struggle to get initiatives across the finish line. Some leaders need to process every element before taking control by obsessing over a decision that is often too little too late. Of course, there are leaders that are masters of avoidance and procrastination … as well as making excuses and playing the blame game.
The choice to step up and take control can be difficult for many leaders because it requires them to overcome their fears, insecurities and their known weaknesses. No matter what, the choices always remain the same … take control or make excuses.
Here are some No-Compromise Leadership insights to control your own destiny, create the right outcomes and leave the excuse making behind you:
- Weaknesses lurk to ambush: Your known weaknesses are those patterns of thinking and behavior that lurk and ambush your best intentions. Things like fear of confrontation, unpopular decisions, living your cash-flow plan, and “not being liked,” can ambush your intent to step up and take the necessary control that you, your team and your company require – and do it now rather than later. The key to overcoming your known weaknesses is to recognize their triggers. The triggers are almost always feelings of discomfort or dread. Humans have the same “fight or flight” wiring animals do. The “fight” choice pushes you out of your comfort zone. It makes you stretch and grow. The “flight” choice pushes you into excuse and blame mode. It does nothing for you other than create more excuse and blame opportunities. Leaders take control.
- Taking control of opportunities: Taking control to create the right outcomes opens the door to new opportunities that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. It’s the difference between taking a journey to a foreign land, versus sitting on your front porch talking about all the amazing places you want to visit. Knowledge, experience and mastery are derived from doing, not dreaming. Testing your abilities and challenging yourself to create breakthroughs are the steppingstones to success. More importantly, for leaders, taking control of the outcomes is the only way to ensure that a company can grow and endure. Leaders take control.
- Taking control – not control freak: A conductor controls the flow, rhythm and intensity of the orchestra without ever touching an instrument. As a leader, you control the flow, rhythm and intensity of your team and your company – and can do so without ever touching another person’s work. Taking control is more about directing, coaching and empowering others. Leaders that confuse taking control with dictating and micromanaging people create toxic and dysfunctional cultures that feed on excuses and blame. Leaders take control respectfully and with integrity.
- Down the excuse rabbit hole: By not taking control, you leave the Four Business Outcomes (productivity, profitability, staff retention and customer loyalty) to fate. It’s like being in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, drifting wherever the current takes you. Once there is the need to explain why something went wrong, missed deadline, blew up or never left the starting gate … the journey down the excuse rabbit hole begins. And the deeper and faster you go, the more blame spews onto others triggering more excuses and blame. That’s a whole lot of needless fire fighting, leak plugging and damage control. It’s exhausting, stressful and totally avoidable. The only way to have a chance to succeed and win is by taking control of your own destiny. Leaders take control.
- The responsibility factor: Leadership is as much about taking responsibility as it is about taking control. A leader is responsible for the safety, operational integrity and financial viability of the company. The only way for a leader to fulfill his or her role is to take, and be in control. The only acceptable excuse is that the best and most tenacious efforts of the company failed to achieve the desired outcomes. You can stand tall and be proud of the fact that you played your best game. There is no pride in giving manufactured excuses for a half-baked try where responsibility failed to show up for the game. Leaders take control.
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