Seven Ways Leaders Move First for Best Results
Moving first is the difference between leading and following. Seven ways leaders move first.
- Move toward people first. When you wonder if you should greet someone, you should. Extend your hand first and say, “Good morning,” first. Don’t hold your head down while walking the hall. If you don’t move first, you may give the impression you’re frustrated or disappointed.
- Move toward problems first. Leaning into problems and hard conversations expresses toughness and courage. Poor performing leaders may be great with people but they all lack toughness.
- Move toward solutions first. Although leaders courageously move toward problems first, they never focus on problems; they always focus on solutions.
- Move toward relationships first. Great challenges require great teams. Networking leaders always go further than isolationists.
- Move toward learning first. High performing leaders think more about things they don’t know. Confusion and uncertainty is the path to discovery. Certainty is the path to safety and stagnation.
- Move toward curiosity and questions first. Great questions make leaders look smart not dumb. Ask about resources, timelines, and deliverables. Answers end curiosity.
- Move toward responsibility and accountability first, not only for themselves but others.
Bonus: Move toward revising plans first. Working the plan is great. Working plans that aren’t working isn’t perseverance, it’s dumb.
- Leaders don’t offer solutions first. They move toward problems and solutions first but they don’t offer unexamined solutions. They delay adopting solutions long enough to keep curiosity alive.
- Leaders don’t speak first they speak last. Drucker said, “Listen first, speak last.”
- Leaders don’t say “me” and “I”; they say, “we”.
- Leaders don’t complain. Complaining is an act of desperation.
Leaders skillfully move first.
How and when should leaders move first?
It’s foolish to always move first. When should leaders pull back?
Dan, great distinctions in this post. Key for me: moving first doesn’t mean offering solutions first. Moving toward people and relationships first requires us to partner in solutions, and that means we need to remove our authority from the solution-finding process as much as possible.
I think leaders need to move first in times of crisis or uncertainty – it’s key to calming fear and maintaining team effectiveness. I’m posting a blog later today relating to that dynamic and 9/11. I think leaders need to hold back any time there’s an opportunity for a team member to grow by finding the right path without leadership.
I really like this post, Dan. There are several truths in it. The one it most immediately made me think of, though, is the essence of the book “Encouraging the Heart” by Kouzes and Posner. When I heard a presentation about the book, I immediately arrived back at work after that luncheon speech and looked each person in the eye and said hello – such a simple thing but I had definitely been in “head down while walking the hall” mode in a chronic way.
Info on the book available here: http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/WileyCDA/LCTitle/productCd-0787983071.html
Excellent article. When I think of the great people I have encountered in life, life’s true everyday leaders, the encompass all the things you’ve mentioned.
Definitely going to re-tweet this article.
Leaders move toward clear transparency. Perhaps they move toward mea culpa. They identify (not admit) that they made mistakes first. They use those mistakes as learning tools for themselves and others. They hold those mistakes up publicly especially when there is a valuable lesson buried. They encourage others to do the same, safely with unconditional trust, always sans blame. (Admit has some ‘blame’ or other negative connotations and points to a perception of something being intentionally obscured.)
Leaders move toward the positive, not a downward, negative spiral. They celebrate others first. They acknowledge and celebrate the successes, no matter how small. They celebrate the mistakes for what can be gleaned to grow.
Leaders move toward what they see first and share that vision openly.
I have a question for everyone, what is the greatest tool as a leader? I’m a fire fighter and I just want to look at different perspectives.
I would certainly encourage you to mine around through past LF posts Derick, there are some great discussion threads on this.
While there is no one tool, perhaps in a brief response—the ability to really see (vision-immediate and long term), to truly listen and after that to engage, to partner and to engage and inspire.
Hi Dan great post Dan and I love Doc’s insightful comment “Leaders identify (not admit) mistakes first.” I think if I was forced to order rank all of the potential tools a leader my number one would be “leaders should be first to inspire.” As I recently read there are three ways to get someone to do something: Coercion which is short-lived and difficult to do and creates resentment, secondly Motivation which is more empowering and great for reaching goals, but the overarching one is inspiration which makes your belief theirs and is self propelled by the passion it brings with it. “Coercion and motivation are things that happen to you while inspiration is something that happens in you.” (don’t recall the author). There are many ways to inspire but the best in my mind is to exude with every action you take your truest values. In this new conceptual age it is things like trust, integrity, honesty, transparency, accountability, and humility that are the new “hard currencies” of business. People will not care what you make or what you do, these can be replicated and reverse engineered. They will however pay close attention to how you do it (value driven behavior) and most importantly will be magnetized by “why” you do it. (vision). When your belief becomes theirs inspiration sets in and then they feel personally compelled to do it.
I appreciate the sentences- Confusion and uncertainty is the path to discovery, Certainty is the path to safety and stagnation and Complaining is an act of desperation. They are powerful. Leaders should move first by owning the responsibility and risk. They should create awareness and connect people with purpose. Especially in turbulence time, when people are hesitant, unsure or fearful to move forward, leaders should happily move forward showing his concern, courage and connectivity with people, When people are aligned with goal, leaders should step back but keep on supporting morally.
I agree that it is foolish to always move first. Leaders should analyses ratio of input and output and on what cost. Leaders need to calculate what they are going to gain and what they are going lose. The most important part is- what is means to achieve goal.When loss is more than gain , then leaders should pull back, when loss is irreparable, leader should pull back, when loss is related to character, leaders should pull back.
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I completely agree – I think a key element in leadership is knowing when and how much to move. A leader who isn’t afraid to move, but moves at the wrong time or in the wrong direction will eventually lose the ability to actually lead. You know, the old “just a guy taking a walk” line.
Dan – great post. You and I are thinking a lot alike today, as I was having a conversation this morning about the differences between managing and leading. This afternoon I posted to my blog about this topic and ended up seeing your post while writing, so I pinged your post from mine. Hope you don’t mind!
This is a simple checklist can help “leader coaching leader”,also can help leaders improve their leadership skills.
Great article. Thank you for sharing.
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