Leadership Between the Lines

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There are two lines that leaders love to focus on.

Leaders love starting lines, and they love finish lines.

Starting lines provide energy and excitement. They represent the launch of a new project or initiative. They represent take off, lift off and the possibilities of a new leadership adventure.

Leaders love starting lines.

But if you’re a leader, you love finish lines too. Finish lines provide that tremendous sense of accomplishment. They represent a goal being accomplished, a task being completed or a vision being fulfilled.

Leaders love finish lines.

But often overlooked in the excitement of a starting line or the thrill of a finish line, are the important lines in between. Effective leaders know that the battle is often won in the less glamorous “in between” lines.

1. The Vision-drift line

Teams may bolt out of the starting line with crystal clarity as to the purpose and direction. But sometimes they can veer off course.

At the point where the Vision-drift line has been crossed, it’s up to the leader to steer things back again.

2. The Agility line

After a while, the tried and true methods can stop being effective. New approaches are needed. But teams can sometimes shrink back from exploring new ways of doing things. They can resist crossing the agility line.

Leaders need to spot this hesitancy and encourage the team consider alternate strategies.

3. The Energy line

Sometimes all of the momentum that emerged from the starting line just seems to dissipate long before the finish line is reached. Leaders need the discernment to recognize when the energy line has been crossed; when renewed momentum must be restored.

4. The “Back to the Drawing Board” line

It’s a fine line between noble determination, and sheer stubbornness.

And that’s another line that leaders must navigate carefully. When a project is not making progress, leaders must know when it’s time to inject more horsepower, and when it’s time to say, “Team, this is just not working. We need to re-think this.”

Too often, the space between the starting line and the finish line is considered to be the domain only of management. While exceptional management is indeed required to move a team and a project from the starting line to the finish line, so too is this the place where exceptional leadership must show up.

Because so much of leadership is required between the lines.

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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