How to Be the First to Know Not the Last

By the time you hear about an issue it’s nearly volcanic. It could have been easily managed last month. Now heads are on fire and teams are exploding.

In the dark and out of the loop always makes things worse.

spiral stairs

Get in the loop:


You’re out of the loop because you’re a jerk when they let you in.

  1. Don’t minimize. It may be small potatoes to you but it’s a monster to those who are in it. “Just deal with it,” isn’t an answer.
  2. Don’t judge. Frustrated put-downs like, “That’s ridiculous,” cause people to pull back.
  3. Don’t solve. Your need to quickly fix devalues others and prevents connection.
  4. Don’t talk so damn much.


  1. Connect small. Connect on small issues if you expect to hear big ones. Trust is built in small ways not giant leaps. Invite teammates for a cup of coffee, a short walk, or lunch. Don’t talk business. Talk about them.
  2. Reach out. People won’t come to you. Reach into their world frequently and often. You don’t need an agenda. Close the distance.
  3. Remain optimistic. Teammates protect frustrated, discouraged leaders. Employees don’t want to trouble an already troubled person.
  4. Lean in. Ask questions. What’s important? What negative behavior is being repeated? What do you want? What does success look like?
  5. Expand expectations. Success isn’t the absence of problems. Expecting problems to vanish guarantees frustration.
  6. Create options. What works for one doesn’t work for another. Ask, “What might we do to solve this?” Then ask, “What else might we do?” And then ask again.
  7. Model it. Talk with others the way you want others to talk with you. They won’t be open if you’re closed.

Those who rule with fear need distance not connection.

How might leaders get and stay in the loop?