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Two Dangers of Reactive Management

Responding is necessary in a turbulent world. Reacting is not. A person who never responds becomes irrelevant. A person who constantly reacts creates the illusion of importance.

Magnetism of chaos:

Jason Woodward (@jasnshell93) tweeted to me, “… a leader must set aside time and dedicate some level of resources toward proactivity or else the chaos will never end. … everything is set against you – resources tend to be drawn towards the fire.”

Responding is necessary. But you’re the Dutch Boy plugging holes in the dam if you live in reaction mode.

Two dangers of reactive management:

#1. The more you react, the more you stay the same.

Reacting to problems solves symptoms. Leaders who solve symptoms solve the same problems over and over. Proactive managers dig up root issues. Reactive managers pick fruits.

Reacting to email generates more email. Many of the emails you answer invite another email in your inbox. (I’m not suggesting you ignore email.)

Reacting to drama creates drama.

Reacting to problems solves symptoms. You need to solve them over and over.

Reactions are based on past assumptions.

#2. The more you react, the more you need to react.

Reacting makes you feel essential.

Weak people create chaos to feel powerful. You’re at the center if you create the whirlwind.

Anyone who continues using the same strategies to solve recurring issues is reactive, not responsive.

How would you feel if you weren’t consumed with a thousand fires? Insignificant?

Some leaders need problems to feel important.

Leaders who solve the symptoms of problems enhance their job security.


How much of your schedule reflects reactive management? Proactive?

The delusion of chaos is you’re building the future when you’re solidifying the past. The future you desire is built by seizing opportunities, not by reacting to urgencies.

What proactive action might you take today?

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