Shawnee Love • June 3, 2019
If you drop a frog in hot water, it will jump out. But if you drop a frog in tepid water and then slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death, not recognizing the heat until its too late.
Interestingly, leaders can behave in the same way. Willing to call for help in the event of a catastrophe, but gradually stewing in their own juices as things boil over in their teams and organizations.
The fact is, leaders often delay delegating, bringing in experts, asking for help e.g., from mentors/advisors, hiring coaches, etc. until the point when the pain becomes nearly unbearable (and unfortunately the problems are much harder to fix). It seems to me there are 5 main reasons why leaders delay:
- They don’t recognize the problem (Leaders are often too busy or may assume its normal for organizations to experience the issues).
- They don’t know of a possible solution.
- They feel they can handle the issue.
- They fear making it worse by taking the wrong action.
- They believe the issue will pass.
We all have blindspots so successfully identifying “when it is time” to get help isn’t easy, even with regular evaluation. Signs which indicate fresh eyes might be required are:
- Repetitive Errors
- Unchallenged assumptions or practices
- Consensus without healthy discussion
- Excessively slow decisions or implementation
- Multiple work arounds
- Paper copies in triplicate (anywhere outside of a bureaucracy)
- Losses (e.g., money, products, people, etc.)
- Sense of uncontrollable chaos
If you start recognizing any of these signs in your organization, consider getting a second opinion. And if there is any possibility that the people in your organization might not give you a full, honest opinion, consider getting an expert opinion from outside. An objective point of view, particularly from someone with a breadth and depth of experience can pinpoint the issue(s) and help you and your organization get moving again.