A Little Dabble will Do Ya

Weak, foolish leaders constantly test the water. Strong, wise leaders dabble and jump, or move on.

Fearful leaders circle the present, wringing their hands. Courageous leaders create the future.

Dabbling leaders lead dying organizations.

sandy foot

Dabbling at the top:

Toe-dippers jump in when success looks probable. Someone else initiates change and takes the risk.

Fearful leaders get ahead by letting others fail.

Dabblers repeat the past and call it progress. Same people – Same strategies – Same disappointing results.

Get in or get out. Don’t stand there with your toe in the water.

Life is too short, economies too volatile, and people too important to spend your time dabbling on the fringes of meaningful leadership.


A little dabbling is wise.

The purpose of dabbling is testing the water so you can jump or move on.

Protecting against failure is wise. But, persistent dabbling is deadly in changing times.


Constant dabbling is cowardice.

Self-interest and self-protection motivate dabbling. Self-protective leaders have personal agendas.

A measure of ego is necessary and healthy. But, organizational interest always come first.

Don’t stand there with your toe in the water.

7 ways to take the plunge:

If the path ahead is certain, it probably isn’t worth it.

  1. Don’t waste time on insignificant activities. If it doesn’t matter, move-on.
  2. Solve big problems. Every time you minimize a problem you devalue the solution.
  3. Don’t be a hand-wringer. Point out problems with optimism.
  4. Create urgency.
  5. Shoot tests-shots before you go all-in.
  6. Adopt adapting as a leadership strategy. Maintain the destination, but adapt as you go. Those who commit, find a way. The uncommitted find fault.
  7. Expect the dip. Work through the down-turn that happens at the beginning of change.

Toe-dipping leaders may have titles but, in reality, they’re followers.

How do you decide when to stop dabbling and take the plunge?