Do you tend to overthink and detail things to death? Do you have to research every feasible outcome, feel completely ready before making a final decision, and then second-guess yourself anyway? (I'll raise my hand a little bit on this one.)
On the flip side, are you more of a "ready, fire, aim" person, prone to move ahead even if the plan is only half-baked because you're sure you can work it out? Do you "ask forgiveness instead of permission" and deal with the fallout? (And here my hand goes all the way up - guilty as charged!)
Both mindsets have their setbacks. Overthink, and your teams will lose patience as they see indecision paralyze you, and it won't be long before they start questioning your ability to lead. Shoot from the hip, and you risk leading your teams into potentially disastrous situations that they will probably have to be the ones to clean up. Either way, over time your leadership will be (at best)diminished and (at worst) no longer trustworthy—the death knell for leaders.
OK, so now what?
As with everything in life and business - there's a middle ground. (And that ground is covered in nearly perfect, green grass because we leaders seem to find our way to it seldom!) Too often, it's seen as a compromise instead of what it really is - a strategic plan of action that will yield better long-term results. So I try to think of "middle ground" as a synonym for "discipline" when it comes to decision making. Just like a good health regimen, it may not be what you want to do, but you know that it's what you should strive for.
Because I suffer from a bit of overthinking, and a lot of shoot from the hip, here are some things that have helped me strike a balance. Not always, but more often.
OVERTHINKERS: NARROW YOUR FOCUS.
Explore options, but not ALL options. You will never be able to quantify all possible scenarios and outcomes, and you'll make yourself crazy trying, so narrow your focus. With input and guidance from your best team members and advisors, choose three or four courses of action, and then debate the flaws and merits until you've found the best way forward. But first set a timeline with a defined end date, or you'll end up drowning in endless committee meetings with frustrated employees who will become mere onlookers as they quickly lose interest.
READY, FIRE, AIM LEADERS: TAKE A BREATH
Your ideas will come fast and furious, but when you make that first phone call to the team leader who has to implement your spur of the moment vision, pay attention. If they hesitate or seem to push back in any way - and even if they don't - ask questions. Then be willing to re-examine your idea through the lens of your teams' overall health, which, never forget, dictates your organization's overall health. Your plan may be great, but it may need some slight adjustments or more time to implement. You won't know if you don't listen. Discipline yourself to have patience, and be willing to tread the middle ground.
I read a quote by John Maxwell that said, "The reality is that you will never get much done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready." And I immediately felt some sort of justification for my mostly "ready, fire, aim" type of personality. When I look objectively at this quote, though, I understand that he is saying you will NEVER be completely ready - for anything, really - but you have to do it anyway. And he's right.
Starting and/or running a business is like jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down. Precision is necessary, and so is speed. Balance the two, and you've struck leadership gold – right in the middle of that refreshing middle ground.
Joe Altieri is the Inventor and CEO of FlexScreen. His product – the world’s first and only flexible window screen - was featured on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, where he hooked a deal with the proclaimed “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner. firstname.lastname@example.org
BY JOE ALTIERI
Joe Altieri is a third-generation entrepreneur, inventor, speaker, and the President and CEO of his own multi-million dollar company. He learned the value of company culture and building strong teams by watching his father and grandfather operate successful businesses.
During his 20+ years in the window industry, Joe recognized the inherent problems with traditional window screens and dealt personally with constant customer frustrations. Always an outside-the-box thinker, he knew there had to be a better way, so he set up shop in his garage and got to work. After years of trial and error, FlexScreen, the world's first and only flexible window screen, was born.
Since its introduction into the marketplace, FlexScreen has gained international attention and earned multiple industry awards. Most notably, FlexScreen was catapulted to the forefront when Joe appeared on ABC's hit show, Shark Tank, in January 2020. Three of the five Sharks battled for a piece of FlexScreen with Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, ultimately winning the deal.
Joe is a firm believer in giving back, and he is generous with his resources and his time. Several years ago, he was honored and recognized as one of Pittsburgh's Volunteers of the Year. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife of 25 years, Alisha. They have four children, four grandchildren, and two very pampered Cane Corso's.
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