This week we held the semi-annual meeting of the Willow Creek Association board of directors, and once again I found myself taken aback by the level of leadership excellence in the room.
As the members of the board tackled issues of considerable complexity, at one point I wrote on my notepad, “These leaders are real. They are getting it done!”
By this I meant that they had a singular focus of moving the organization forward. And they were doing the hard work of real leadership to get the job done. No shortcuts.
By contrast, it brought to mind examples of leaders who might shirk the hard work of leadership and instead, take one of these leadership shortcuts…
1. Creating policies
Moving people or organizations forward requires the hard work of leadership. It requires vision casting, team building, and difficult conversations.
But instead of doing this hard work, some leaders will opt instead to simply churn out a few policies.
Policies might have their place. Just don’t confuse them with leadership.
2. Losing your cool
When a leader loses their cool, it’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Both are frustrated that they’re not getting their way. And so they pitch a fit.
If people give in to this, it can create the illusion that there has been a leadership accomplishment. But ‘powering up’ isn’t the same as leadership. It’s more like bullying.
And it’s just another shortcut.
3. Creating a new org chart
…or reorganizing anything.
A leader paralyzed with indecision will sometimes whip out a piece of paper or run to a white board and start drawing boxes, circles and lines with abandon.
In time a brand new exciting organization chart can emerge, and the resulting change in reporting structures can provide yet another illusion that real leadership has taken place.
But, once again, it hasn’t. It’s just another shortcut.
Face it. Sometimes leadership is just hard. Moving a group of people forward requires tremendous effort and tenacity.
And in the midst of it all it can be very tempting to simply take one of these shortcuts.
But resist these easy ‘outs’. Stick to the hard work of leadership.
The results will be worth it.
What other leadership shortcuts have you seen?