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.
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.
- Don’t waste time on insignificant activities. If it doesn’t matter, move-on.
- Solve big problems. Every time you minimize a problem you devalue the solution.
- Don’t be a hand-wringer. Point out problems with optimism.
- Create urgency.
- Shoot tests-shots before you go all-in.
- Adopt adapting as a leadership strategy. Maintain the destination, but adapt as you go. Those who commit, find a way. The uncommitted find fault.
- 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?
Another great post! In his book “Waging Business Warfare” David Rogers wrote that it takes courage to concentrate. As someone who has been blessed with RBADD (really bad!) I struggle every hour to avoid being distracted by bright shiny objects. I also know that it’s the only way I will ever achieve my goals – business and personal. Thanks Dan!
Thanks Joe. What a powerful observation. In one sense, concentrating means putting lots of eggs in one basket. And we all know it’s dangerous to do that.
BTW, did you see that squirrel? I’ll be back….
I think I must have RRBADD!!
Maybe the rest of them have ASD ( surplus disorder)…
Dr. Hallowel refers to ADD as a Ferrari Brain with Bicycle brakes… Its worthwhile to improve your braking system- but don’t neglect the Ferrari!
Ride your capacity to hyper focus…. Mine it, for its inherent gems!!
Now… where was I?….
Love the Ferrari Brain with Bicycle brakes…. is that a bad thing? 😉
Only if you are heading for a brick wall!… But those gifted with ADD, often have unusually creative steering capacities… especially at the last minute! Not for the faint of hear though!
Meant to write.. not for the faint of heart.. in my comment below!
Now that will be challenging to many. 🙂
Thanks Stuartart… including me!
And me. 🙂
Wondering how these insight might be applied for leaders with vision and courage who lack positional authority ( and even political savy!)… the first agenda item would seem to be to engage those with positional authority around a new vision or direction, around necessary, bold steps, without alienating…. not easy!..
Any thoughts, oh wise one?!…
Thanks Lori. I’m still looking around the room for the wise one! 😉
I wonder if the development of political savy should precede any leap-taking? Learning to connect, help others reach their goals, communicate effectively, and build alliances is a necessity, not a convenience.
Without political savy, we tend to push people to do what we want. In the end, they dig in.
My experience indicates that I’ve often been out on my own and blaming people for not following my lead. In the end, I was acting too independently.
I’m not sure I like my response to your comment…. what do you think?
I think you are bang on!
Maybe the key is listening, learning, engaging and discovering with others, before leaping.
Clearly you ARE the wise one!!
Have a great day!
Something in me just wants people to do what I say. I don’t want to earn the right to influence others by building relationships. Leadership by decree seems much easier.
Your suggestions on how to get there are very useful. “Discovering with” takes patience and a belief in the power of diversity.
I like to think of it as leadership by inspiration rather than decree.. but sometimes those I am hoping to inspire, to my surprise and dismay, experience decree rather than inspiration!
Indeed “discovering with” does take patience…. Something that is often not abundantly present in those, like me, with RRBADD!!
Perhaps in addition to Concentration taking courage ( as Joetye shared), we can think of patience as taking courage. It takes courage to trust a collaborative discovery process-
I like this first step in the context of considering a leap…considering not just one’s vision but, the political aspect of engaging with others- trusting that the outcome of a collaborative process will invariably be stronger than that which is arrived at in isolation.
I know that this is true and yet, sometimes I get carried away by my own ideas- and forget.
Thanks for this important reminder and perspective!
I love the idea that we.. “…earn the right to influence others by building relationships”
Well said!.. leadership has to be earned through relationship building-
I invariably lose my footing, when I forget that!
I especially like “Expect the dip.” That can really be demoralizing if you don’t expect it.
On another note, Dan, I’m docking you two points today because of the title. It dates BOTH of us. 😃
Thanks Steven. You mean Brill Cream is out of style? 🙂 Oh my!!!
Helping people realize that things get worse before they get better helps then not get discouraged when the are in the dip. I think expecting it, enables us to work through it, rather than just feeling frustrated.
Dan I do not dabble.
I AM going forward, those who like where I AM leading them follow.
I have said this before and I will continue until you have your aha moment.
There are no weak Leaders. By definetion Leaders are folks with followers.
People with your word weak are not in that weak moment moving. They are stuck in one place.
That precise moment they are NOT LEADING, they are pondering fear.
That AIN’T LEADING, by definition of the word.
When they get unstuck and are MOVING closer to their Vision they are in that moment Leading again.
A distinction YES! But a darn good one!!
It is like having a light on or off. When the light is off, no leading.
Sharing that as clearly as I am able to now. Just know definetions, words matter. People add meaning to them. Using words incorrectly by not following their definition creates a mess.
Just my two cents worth.
The Third Unlimited gathering steam and followers everyday now!!! Yiippppeee!
Thanks Scott. How does a person who never dabbles ever test options?
Great question Dan, Great!
Trying new things is new!
I try new things everyday. I just do not call it dabbling.
I have a force of committment and determination about what I AM doing I have never experienced before.
I spoke with a person today, dabbled maybe you call it, I call it gently trying a new approach.
Walked away with a commitment for four memberships towards 1000.
I just do not agree with the term Weak Leaders.
There is no such thing.
Just for me Dan, not that you need to agree to validate my opinion. Also not that u are wrong if you have a different opinion.
Another thing I place high on the list of Leasership is an open mind. Flexible.
Part of the works going from a more rigid mindset to a more flexible one. Rigid folks and thought systems….so 80’s and so walking the plank.
I guess Dan it is like a rocket guided laser with GPS.
As it speeds to its destination at warp speed, yes veering here and there like you say dabbling happens, but the steely determination to reach the Goal of Vision is never in doubt.
The Inner GPS gently guides one back on track but ALWAYS moving FORWARD.
The Role of The Evangelist in The Movement.
Great question Dan,
I Will Persist Until I Succeed! Mine is a Noble and Worthy Goal!
Ask and I will share, you can see for yourself.
This post has a real punch that reeks of truth! Well said Dan.
Thanks Diana. Love the term “reeks.”
I think that when leaders find a vision everyone moves forward
Thanks billgncs. Well, at least that’s a beginning.
even a poor plan puts you ahead of most of the competition
The world is full of toe-dippers, those who try many things but don’t commit to any. I have seen many leaders who take timid, tiny steps and hope for success that always eludes them.
Thanks Rajiv. I love a well turned phrase. “those who try many things but do’t commit to any.” has a powerful ring to it.
Timid action never produces dramatic success.
Can you point me in the right direction to find more info about the dip before change?
A google search on the “change curve” should help.
Here’s an example of the dip. An organization institutes a new process for manufacturing their product. Production will go down – dip – during the time that employees learn the new process.
Great insights as always, Dan. I like your advice about adopt adapting as a leadership strategy. We need to be sure of ourselves in terms of our goals but remain flexible in getting there. Thanks for another great post.
love the title- reminds me of the Buffett song:) Thanks for sharing!
Great article. This is one of the reasons I read personal development, leadership and biographies. Continuing to further our minds will always allow us to advance in our successes as leaders.
This reminds my of Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly!!