This time my ride on the train was different– I paid attention! The last time I rode the train into the big city, I found myself sitting all alone on a silent, motionless train with the next stop indicator flashing “OUT OF SERVICE!” Not one passenger warned me about reaching the end of the line. I jumped out of my seat wondering, “Where am I? How long have I been here?” I was so insistent on using my time wisely on the 40-minute ride, that I lost myself in writing an article on my phone.
Yes, this time my ride on the train was different. I noticed the man whose beard was long enough to touch the pages of his book. I noticed the cat poster on the window reminding me how much I love dogs. I noticed the woman who refused take an open seat despite her unsteadied efforts to free herself from her earbud cord. I was very observant, maybe even vigilant.
As leaders, we are expected to be observant for the sake of our teams and organization. We may not immediately find ourselves sitting all alone on the “train to nowhere,” because it’s a slow process. One by one people get off the “train,” seeking a better outcome or different destination. Eventually, everyone quietly disengages, and in my experience, they won’t even warn you about the end of the line. What are you:
- Failing to See? Blind spots are tricky. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have colleagues willing to share our, um… opportunities. If you unaware of at least one blind spot, it’s time to seek feedback from those you trust. Believe me, others have ideas about your blind spot(s). Leaders create an environment where it is safe to learn!
- Needing to Research? The scarcity of information is not justification for indecision. The “unknown” is challenging enough for team members without the added frustration of a uniformed or misinformed leader. Pursuing answers to the tougher questions establishes trust and engagement. Leaders create an environment where solutions are understood (and implemented).
- Intentionally Avoiding? Most teams or organizations are ready for a culture shift, technology upgrade, or staff restructure. Each passing day presents another reason for making improvements. Though delays seem inconsequential, but the train keeps travelling from stop to stop. Team members are either getting onboard or disembarking. Leaders create an environment where improvement is constant!
On my last train ride, I ignored no fewer than 11 stops and was completely unaware of my surroundings. Yet, each stop offered multiple indicators: a verbal reminder about the current and upcoming stop, flashing bars of light, and a bell that could be heard by everyone (including the woman listening to tangled earbuds). I challenge you to be intensely attentive, unambiguously knowledgeable, and powerfully courageous about the needs of your team and organization. Leaders create an environment where indicators are observed and addressed!
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Bible says about Observation. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.