Making the First Move
If you don’t move first you aren’t leading. But, don’t move first every time.
Passion, vision, and compassion propel leadership-action. Leaders step in where others step back.
All leaders move toward:
Wise leaders move toward:
- People over opportunities. People are leadership’s greatest opportunity, period.
- Failure. Failure isn’t sought it’s leveraged. Fools run from failure. Leaders fail well because failure is progress. Leaders peel the scab off, learn and go.
- Conflict. Clarity is the child of conflict used well.
Bonus: Move first toward those who offend you.
“Wise” applies best to the second list because it’s not intuitive.
Foolish leaders prefer telling to listening, for example. Additionally, wise leaders learn apologizing first is strength not weakness.
About the first list:
Focus is the hardest part of passion.
Unfocused passion, vision, and compassion are the enemies of success. Selective wisdom is the mother of success. Unfocused passion is the father of destruction. Inexperienced leaders act like squirrels on steroids when new opportunities emerge.
My problem is I’ve never seen an opportunity I didn’t like.
Your inclination to move first invites resistance because it destabilizes, disturbs, and disrupts. You may wrongly view resistance as the enemy. Move toward resistance. Pushing through resistance is the pursuit of alignment.
All leaders move first but wise leaders learn the power of moving second. It’s not natural, but, wise leaders learn to be first at letting others go first. View moving second as leadership development – enhancing capacity – not passive resignation.
What are the dangers or frustrations of moving first?
How can leaders move first in ways that bring others with them?
I really identify with this article. Especially moving toward conflict. I had an experience with a leader that would avoid conflict at all costs. All this did was make small problems cause big catastrophes. It broke down communication. It caused everyone to lose this leader’s trust. It would cause more conflict than facing the initial conflict.
Thanks for fleshing out the idea of moving toward conflict. On one hand, anyone who loves conflict is scary to me…on the other, as you indicate, running from it serves to make matters worse.
I think leaders move forward and bring other with them when they are clear and consistent in their actions. I like that quote, “clarity is the child of conflict used well.”
Part of our role as leaders is to support and raise up others. Leading, as you have rightfully said, is not always about going first or being seen, but it is about being present and always accountable.
It took me years to realize that being first to help others move first multiplied my impact as a leader.As always, thank you Martina for adding so much value to LF conversations.
The danger of moving first is frustration in case of failure. Those who always expect success get frustration but leaders walk on razor’s edge. They know even dark side of moving first. I always believe back to dark side is bright side. And leaders visualize that. Fearful people generally do not move first because they are not ready to accept darkness in their effort.
And those who dare to move reap opportunity. I believe leaders create opportunity, and others seek opportunity. And to create opportunity, leaders move to create change, see change and be change. And in the process, people get challenged to change. This create inertia. And leaders challenge that inertia.
I think leaders can co-move by showing opportunity and creating confidence among people. Leaders need to boost confidence and win their belief before they move first to change. If they do this, nothing can surmount their belief, dreams and opportunity.
Wow you are slamming it Ajay. Some of the things I love in your comment include:
“co-move” mmm sweet.
We create opportunity through change… (simple clarity)
Thank you for sharing your insights.
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom today. They came at a timeI needed them most. The team that I am a part of has been entrenched in a major personal conflict. After several months of unbearable tension and noncommunication I finally decided to step up and make the first move by apoligizing to each team member for my contribution to the strife we were experiencing. I did not receive one ounce of feedback from any member of the team. Not even so much as an acknowledgement that my apology was heard. I felt like a fool but in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. Shortly afterwards upper management decided to take matters into their own hands. A meeting was held and everyone had an opportunity to voice their side and come up with some resolution. Not one person stepped up to take any responsiblity nor was any suggestion made on how we should resolve the conflict and move forward. I again apologized for my hand in the situation and offered several ideas on how we might begin to repair the team. Each suggestion was met with, you might have guessed it, resistance. I pretty much decided at that point that I would just throw my hands up in the air and surrender. But now after reading todays post I know what I have to do. I have to make the second move too. I need to push through the resistance by creating opportunities for them to make the next “first” move. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Hmm, Dan, not that I am a betting person, but I am betting that there could be several threads around a defining clarity of what ‘moving forward’ is, what it really looks and feels like, how it gets misintepreted, but I digress already….
Moving forward as a leader, may not mean you have to take the first action. That forward kinesis can wisely be propelling words that engage others to action. (Or perhaps even an alignment with Ajay’s co-lead perspective) When a potential solution to an opportunity (or conflict) is visible to more than one person, a leader may identify and support a soon-to-be leader in stepping up. As much as that leader might want to step up him/herself, they instead support the growth and learning of others.
That doesn’t mean that those leading the charge are immune to focused resistance (as others here have noted) and scar tissue (nice graphic scab description, BTW), so the supportive leader may need to have resources and band-aids at the ready. And if you don’t have a supportive leader, begin building a healthy cadre of motivated folks around you, they are there).
Absolutely agree with your point on focused passion…but, but there is so much to do and so little time to do it and it is all important….gack, passionate scope creep. (squirrel on roids-too funny Dan)
The word “focus” can’t be emphasized enough. I’ve seen organizations destroyed by “mental butterfly” approaches concealed as entrepreneurial nimbleness or adapting to the environment. While it is important to be nimble, the main advantage to adopting a strategy is that it shapes the business model and indeed the entire organization. Changing course takes time, resources, spreads them thin. It it usually better to “push through” with a good strategic approach than to jump to greener grass of another bright idea too quickly. Jim Collins alludes to this in his “Good to Great”.
To survive, an organization must adapt to its environment. However, much of what we call “adapting” is lack of discipline and focus.
A great post.
Brilliantly written thought provoking article Dan. I love the way you use words. Leadership is all about taking initiative, which requires the courage to take the necessary step. This is often the first step, but in order to raise up younger leaders, it will involve the insight to allow others to take the first step.
Great words, well constructed and inspirational. Well done and thank you.
Great post Dan! Love the statement, ‘leaders step in where others step back.’ Also love the statement that, ‘wise leaders learn the power of moving second even when they could move first.’ I too find myself hesitating to move toward resistance. Once push past it in find but those initial steps are the hardest.
Good points Dan. Due to my gender I have always worked alone, and lead the field due to initiative, and the ability to change. Your comments have reinforced points we need to adhere to when we are seeking to build a career. A need to listen, but also the need to reach out and let others know they are included, indeed that is why you are there. The psychological process today is challenging, and one does feel lonely, but we cannot lose track when we personally believe in our set goals, and plans for the benefit of others.
Leaders can move first by just getting the conversation started. Great leaders know how to ask questions that get their team to step up and take action. Though, they need to have a keen sense of emotional intelligence and know how to ask the question of the person in front of them and when. Actually, it’s lots of fun.
I teach two Junior Achievement classes (www.jaeasttennessee.org) and I try to keep it interesting and relevant (high school students). So I copy and pasted and gave you credit last week. Thank you for the Blog because I am trying to get them to interact more and not be turtles in their shells. Maybe you will get lucky and pick up a few more followers! Dave