I was coming back home today and while in the elevator the lady that just got on forgot to press her floor’s button. She realized a little too late as we passed the 15th floor; her floor. She then press 17, but that too was too late, then she pressed 18, and again that was too late. She gave up and got off the 20th floor with someone else. At that point I was thinking, if she pressed 17 and 18 at the same time, she probably would have gotten off at the 18th floor. Anyway, no harm done when you miss your floor, I just thought its an interesting intro to this post.
When things don’t go to plan, most start to think reactively, how do I get back on plan? We panic and try all sort of different things to reduce the damage – with little consideration to the consequences of our remediation. Ex. You are driving on the highway and tailgating the person in front. Breaks go on, and now you are forced to slam on the breaks to avoid a collision. Thinking proactively would mean you wouldn’t have been tailgating the person ahead, it would mean you were aware of what is happening around you. Isn’t that what you get taught at driving school? Defensive driving is proactive thinking.
Even when things go to plan, you can begin to think reactively. Task 1 is done, on to task 2, then task 3, and so on. Following your plan blindly is also reactive thinking. I also think the longer your actions have been in line with your plan, the worse the consequences of your reactions will be when things eventually don’t go to plan.
So, shit happens and you can’t do anything about it, but good leaders shine when shit hits the fan. Good leaders are proactive thinkers. People who think reactively, are good at following, they’re bad at leading; and that is okay. Not everybody can lead, and not every leader can lead all the time. I’ve been in positions where I followed great leadership; proactive leadership. I have also been in ones with reactive leadership. Its very different, but both offer lessons to learn. Good leaders know when to step out of your way and let you run with it. Because reactive leaders are bad leaders, and they’re good at following, they expect others to blindly follow them – blindly following someone isn’t proactive thinking.
Proactive thinkers are Linchpins.