November 21, 2018

Embracing the Leadership Zig and Zag


Some say that change is the only constant.

For the leader, change is not only a constant but the reason leaders are needed in the first place. It’s change that tests our leadership mental and pushes us to look for better ways to achieve our objectives and the objectives of our organizations.

Why Change is Scary

Change almost always catches us off guard. It’s not that we don’t expect change — it’s just that it never comes about how we envisioned it. For some, this is extremely uncomfortable. For most, it’s the reason they don’t push through their struggles to achieve their goals.

Change should not be scary. It’s a natural part of our life and if embraced, can lead to more opportunities.

Embracing change means that you are open to changing your direction when required. Embracing change means that when change zigs, you zag and vice versa.

The Risky Part of Zigging and Zagging

One of the major drives of being change adverse is the risk involved with zigging and zagging around an issue, obstacle or setback. This risk is real but not as scary as most people think.

Risks can be mitigated and the leader who understands risk, assesses the options and then takes calculated risks will be more successful and more resilient than the leader who stays on an unproductive path.

When to Zig, When to Zag and When to Completely Change Course

Most leaders wait too long to zig and zag. They usually fall into this trap because they have made a huge investment in their present course and don’t want to look foolish or rethink their brilliant plan.

That’s absurd.

The leader who does not change course when they need to, will look more foolish when the entire effort careens into the side of the mountain. Changing course or direction too often is also a bad idea but don’t let that stop you from truly assessing the situation by following these guidelines:

  • Three steps ahead: As much as you can, think ahead of your present course. By doing this, you can anticipate course corrections you might have to make.

  • Down the rabbit hole: It’s fine to explore new opportunities but don’t get distracted down a course that going to only be marginally fruitful or downright distracting. Remain focused on your goals.

  • Natural forks in the road: There will always be decision points that come along in every effort. These decision points need to be vetted and contemplated so that the right decisions are made.

  • Beyond the finish line: Looking beyond the end makes it much easier to anticipate how decisions will impact not just finishing but what happens after the finish. All projects or efforts have long lasting impacts so look a little farther and anticipate them.

  • Multiple data points don’t lie: Too often, a leader will stay on a given course simply because they don’t want to change. If you are hearing from multiple people, in multiple ways that things are just not working, that’s a pretty strong indication to change course.

Embrace Change by Learning to Zig and Zag

Change is a scary thing. Anytime something changes, we are put in a vulnerable position simply because change creates an opportunity for both success and failure. Being able to zig and zag when change occurs will allow you to become resilient to change. This resiliency will make it possible to adapt and overcome the challenges you and your effort will face.

By learning to zig and zag, you create more opportunities for success because opportunities are everywhere and it’s the leader that understands and grasps those opportunities that will be successful.