Leaders Manage Transitions
First, Foremost, and Always
Leaders Manage Transitions. Everything else should work out fine?
What’s the point of leadership?
Or at least what I think the point is.
I think Leadership really comes down to managing transitions.
Steady as She Goes
Organizations are really good at self-perpetuating once they have a little bit of inertia.
Organizations are honestly so good at continuing to exist that we complain about governments, companies (monopolies or no), and pretty much every existing power structure that you can think of.
So if everything that exists sticks around for a long…long time, why even have people in charge in the first place?
Are the people in charge the reason for how good these organizations are at not dying?
A lot of layers of Management can disappear and things will generally keep on trucking (most of the time).
Twitter hasn’t melted down. The State Department still mostly worked during the Trump administration. Meta, Amazon, Lyft, Stripe, and all the other tech companies that enacted a ton of layoffs recently won’t suddenly go offline.
So what gives?
The hard part is when things don’t have a procedure.
A company that has sold the incredible Widget X for 5 years can probably continue to sell Widget X for another few years all things considered.
They can just follow the existing playbook, get more customers into your funnel, try and improve your numbers by reviewing your sales calls and listening to customer complaints to make Widget X a little better.
But what happens if another company launches the even more incredible Widget Y?
Or if a crucial component of Widget X turns out to be toxic and is made illegal?
Or if the Influencer face of Widget X renounces it as bad for the environment?
That’s when a Leader earns their pay.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s disproportionately almost the only time they’ll earn their pay.
A Leader sitting at the intersection of multiple people, datasets, and context is likely the only person who has enough sense of the current operational picture to make the directionally best decision.
Maybe it’s a massive upgrade to next year’s Widget X
Maybe it’s a rapid deployment materials science research project to rebuild Widget X from the ground up
Maybe it’s a rigorous supply chain overhaul to make Widget X more eco-friendly
That person sitting at the boundary position between domains of excellence needs to manage the organization’s needs along with the external reality to make the decisions critical to shepherding the team through the transition in front of them.
So when you - as a Leader - get the “uh oh” feeling that something is new, unfamiliar, and a little weird - perk up your ears and start paying more attention.
This is when your org actually needs you.
I hope this added value to your day.
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