The Leader and The Windshield

I was thinking today about how many of us as leaders get in the way of our followers instead of being transparent to them.  Many people like the attention that being out front brings.  It is usually our name that is in the paper.  We are the ones quoted for some wise saying we devised from our wealth of knowledge.  Many times, very capable people are ignored by those seeking out the person in charge.

But, as I ponder on that thought, I’m thinking about the really successful people I know.  Most of them are available to be out front and actually do have very wise things to say.  But, when their team is on the bus, they are not standing in the front blocking the view.  They are transparent, shielding those who follow from the minor distractions of the road, and allowing capable people to focus on execution. 

The successful leader is providing a clear vision of the road without blocking the view.

The plan has been clearly communicated so that everyone on board is clear about how they are to contribute to the organization’s success, allowing them to focus on results.  Speeding along the highway, changes in scenery that require speedy adjustments to a global marketplace are much easier to make when the team is looking through the windshield instead of at the leader.

The mistake many leaders make is thinking that they must constantly communicate their changing view of the road to those who follow.  By forcing competent people to focus on themselves instead of the road, valuable time and clarity is wasted.  Every movement the leader makes threatens to upset the organization’s momentum and delays an effective response.  Before long, the response time is shortened to the point that there is only enough time for excessive reactions, not measured responses.  Crashes occur that would not have happened if the leader were not blocking the view.

The effective leader communicates a clear vision, shields the team from unnecessary distractions and then allows team members to focus on execution.  Sounds like a windshield to me.

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