Safe is dangerous

By Doug Sundheim via blogs.hbr.org   Article

The Trouble with Leadership Theories

“A year ago, a client asked to see my one-sheet theory of leadership. I hadn’t done the exercise in a decade. That night I revisited my theory and rewrote it.  In fifteen minutes and six brief lines I captured my current thinking about great leadership, exactly as it came to me.  Here’s what came out:

I believe:

There’s too much noise in business today.  There are too many things vying for our attention.  Senior leaders must be diligent about cutting out the noise to get their organizations focused on what really matters.

Playing it safe is dangerous.  You never maintain the status quo by playing it safe.  You get worse.  You lose your edge.  You lose your confidence.  You don’t feel alive. You can’t win. 

Mediocrity is cancerous.  Once you begin to accept mediocrity, it sends signals that it’s acceptable.  Before long everyone and everything around you is mediocre.

Unless you’re relentlessly open and honest in your communication—constantly—things fall apart.  I believe that close to 100% of all business problems can be traced back to poor communication at some point.

People want to do great things.  They want to build great things.  They want to be involved with other great people.  Great leaders create the conditions for other people’s greatness to come out.

You need to hold people’s feet to the fire.  Do it with compassion.  Do it with love.  Do it with respect.  But don’t let people off the hook.  This is where mediocrity starts.”

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