4 choices smart leaders make

Weaving Influence is a full-service digital marketing agency. Since launching 10 years ago, Weaving Influence has helped clients launch more than 150 books, carving its niche in working with authors, thought leaders, coaches, consultants, trainers, nonprofit leaders and speakers to market their services and books. This post is by Mark Miller.

A few years ago, we began to notice a lot of struggling leaders. The problem did not appear to have industry or geographic boundaries, nor did it have any regard for the size of the company or the seniority of the leader.

The culprit, or so we thought, was busyness, distraction, growing complexity, and the like. We decided to label this toxic mix quicksand.

When a leader finds his or herself in quicksand, there are really only three options:

  1. Sink: This is what happens when we give up. Our hopes, dreams, aspirations and influence are extinguished.
  2. Swim: These are leaders going through the motions with little to show for it. The fundamental problem with this approach is that it does not allow you to realize your full potential nor is it sustainable.
  3. Escape: This is the strategy of Smart Leaders. These people have figured out how to move beyond the encumbrances of the day and lead at a higher level.

Our team set out to learn how some leaders always find a way to rise above the quicksand that destroys so many others. We learned the quicksand is actually not the enemy — we are! Our lack of thoughtful, strategic action keeps us in its ever-tightening grip.

The path out of the quagmire is paved with our choices. Smart Leaders make four smart choices that enable them to lead from higher ground.

Smart choice No. 1

Confront reality

Confront reality to stay grounded in the truth and lead from a position of strength.

If you make this smart choice, you will need to make good on your intentions. I recommend you start with yourself. Look in the mirror:

  • What is true about your leadership?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are you going to do about it?

Smart choice No. 2

Grow capacity

Grow capacity to meet the demands of the moment and the challenges of the future.

Although there are several strategic things you can do to grow capacity, I’ll suggest just one for now: Create some margin in your life. If you don’t have any margin in your life, it is hard for me to believe you are maximizing your potential.

I am talking about regular blocks of time to reflect, assess, think, create and plan. These activities are the hallmarks of the best leaders.

Smart choice No. 3

Fuel curiosity

Fuel curiosity to maintain relevance and vitality in a changing world. Is there a fountain of youth for leaders? Maybe. I think curiosity is the most likely candidate.

Try this: Embrace an “ask, don’t tell” posture whenever possible. After 40 years of leadership, a few things have become crystal-clear. One of them: The more questions I ask, the better I lead.

Smart choice No. 4

Create change

Create change today to ensure a better tomorrow.

Some leaders avoid change like the plague. I worry about these leaders. There is a chance they have slipped into a management mindset. Now, I am a huge fan of management as long as it is not masquerading as leadership.

Managers generally want to control; leaders want to create and release the untapped potential in people and organizations. Both control and creation are needed for an organization to thrive. Never confuse the two.

Your superpower

At the beginning of the “Harry Potter” movies, there was a pivotal scene. On the evening of Harry’s 12th birthday, Hagrid went to pick up the boy to take him to Hogwarts so he could develop his skills as a wizard. The problem was that Harry did not know he was a wizard.

Do you remember the scene? Hagrid said, “Harry, yer a wizard.”

Can you imagine all that was going through young Harry’s mind? The potential and promise of his gift might have seemed overwhelming at the moment. He was flooded with a blend of skepticism and possibility.

As I conclude this post, there is good news for you. You are also a wizard! Like Harry, you have a superpower in your choices. When you consistently make the smart choices, your default response in the midst of your daily life, your impact will increase, and you can literally change your world.

Be smart!