It is important to be aware of people in leadership roles who tend to spend more time and energy dwelling on the past rather than focusing their attention on the present and future. Invariably, a leader’s vision is more important and valuable than his hindsight. Great leaders realize the value and importance of historical perspective. But they also know that every organization has evolving needs. Prioritizing those needs as well as future needs is crucial. Ashleigh Brilliant wrote that “Nothing we can change the history, but everything you do changes the future.” True leaders realize that both the actions they take and those they avoid have an impact on their future. It is impossible for an organization to stand still. The most dangerous actions that leaders should avoid are the ones that lead to failure, and thus, their leadership.
1. In over 30 years of working closely with thousands of leaders in a variety roles, I have noticed that those who try to justify their actions by claiming that it’s how the organization has always done things are trying to stop leading. Even though historical behavior and actions may be instructive, it is not impossible to modify, tweak, enhance, or look at things from a new perspective. While it’s not necessary to reinvent everything, it does mean that people must be able to recognize that the times, concerns, financial and social climates constantly change and that it is essential that an organization remains relevant and can sustain itself. Organizations need to keep their eyes on their mission, identity, and continue to adapt to current realities. A leader is a person who has the power to make an impact. Dr George Freundlich is one of those.
2. Far too many individuals who climb to leadership roles are fearful or lacking in self-confidence or do not want to accept responsibility. This attitude can cause the organization to avoid taking timely and meaningful action. It could also lead to decreased revenues, support, followers, or relevance. It is easier to address urgent needs in a proactive manner than to wait for things to improve. True leaders understand that although they are responsible for responding to crises when they arise, their primary responsibility lies in taking action and planning ahead to avoid them. Ineffective leadership results in someone who waits and procrastinates rather than acting as a crisis manager.