My Top 10 “Back to the Future” Leadership Lessons

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Recently I gave myself a “Back to the Future” leadership assessment.

I asked myself, “How would I lead differently in my younger days if I could do it all over again?”

I came up with pages full of notes, which I ultimately boiled down to my personal top 10 list of ways I would lead differently, if I could somehow acquire Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean…

Back to the Future

I would spend a lot more time with those who get and support the vision

In the early days I tended to try to spread my time equally with everyone. I wish I had learned earlier to pour more of myself into those who were vision-drivers.

I would worry less about trying to appease those who just won’t get on board

The people-pleaser in me used to cause me endless fretting when I couldn’t make everyone happy.

I would establish more conservative budgets, and more radical stretch goals

I used to think that a budget was a tool to measure courageous leadership. I wish I had learned earlier that radical stretch goals were different than fiscally sound budgets.

I would draw cleaner boundaries between work time and personal time

In the early days I too often allowed work demands to impinge on family time. Big mistake.

I would pour disproportionate time and energy into the staff who were delivering the greatest results

It took a while for me to realize that disproportionate results were obtained when I poured disproportionate time into the results-producers.

I would place greater emphasis on team development

In the early days I was too reactionary when it came to team development; I would tend to pay attention to team dynamics only when I spotted trouble.

I would be more diligent in looking for signs of burnout among staff. And I’d respond accordingly

My sensitivity to fatigue among my teammates developed much later in my leadership than I would have liked.

I would pour more of myself into the young, rising leaders 

In my own early days I didn’t connect the dots as to how investing in young rising leaders would have a long-term payoff.

I would hire more slowly

Ya, I made some speedy blunders back in the day.

I would move more quickly when it came to dealing with staff members with bad attitudes

I used to think bad attitudes would just work themselves out. Ouch, big mistake.

Of course, the value in doing this reflection exercise is not one of nostalgia, but of ongoing development. And my goal is to revisit such exercises in the hope of seeing my own leadership grow as I move forward.

Try it yourself. You could find valuable insights as you look “back to the future”…

What would your “Back to the Future” leadership lessons look like?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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