Leadership Judgment: Do You See Prevention as Weakness?
by Kate Nasser | 5 Comments »
Leadership Judgment: Is Prevention Weakness or Readiness?
A customer of mine piqued my interest with the following story. She showed her home renovation contractors the key for the deadbolt in the door in case they needed to get out quickly in an emergency. They said, “Thank you but we could just bust out through the door anyway.”
Perhaps they could. Yet it left me with a question. When people — leaders — think they can power through an obstacle, do they see those who prevent trouble as weak and lacking confidence? What if, instead, they saw prevention as readiness rather than weakness?
Leadership Judgment: Do You See Prevention as Weakness or as Readiness?
Business leaders rarely see readiness as a weakness. They hold strategy and operational planning sessions. There are project plans, risk assessments, training initiatives, and design plans for product launches and roll outs. Military units as well plan extensively and hold readiness exercises.
Yet some of these same leaders bristle when they hear suggestions that prevent possible trouble. Why do prevention efforts skew their leadership judgment? Perhaps it …
- Makes them think their teams are expressing fear
- Intensifies their own hidden fears
- Makes them mistake prevention as idleness/paralysis
- Unsettles their sense of confidence, strength, and power
Great leaders escape this skew and see prevention as readiness and strength. They see the benefits:
- Better allocation of resources and time without the detours to preventable problems
- Simpler approaches to overcoming obstacles with ready solutions in place
- Less clean up, more clear thinking to move ahead
Leaders and managers, ask yourselves: “Where and when does my confidence and sense of power drive me to overlook or block prevention? When does it make me see employees who prevent trouble as weak? When does it hurt my leadership judgment?”
Take a lesson from emergency responders who regularly fight through life and death situations. They run readiness drills. They will also tell you that prevention is even more important. It is not a weakness.
Spot the employees who have a natural bent toward readiness and prevention. Highlight their strength and applaud it as a business advantage. Be especially careful of labeling female employees as weak because they suggest preventive measures. Don’t let the thought of prevention as a weakness skew your leadership judgment.
A natural talent for prevention snaps into action quickly. It’s always ready. Prevention and readiness are at the core of working smarter not harder. Preventive readiness doesn’t slow things to a halt as you might fear. It speeds success by preventing obstacles.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Leaders, Collaborators Are Stronger Than You Think
Leadership Assumptions That Damage Success
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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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Great article Kate! I totally agree that being as prepared as possible in leadership is a great quality. Have an amazing day!
Thank you Cynthia. It’s a subtle/hidden bias that many leaders have. They see employees who are trying to prevent trouble as weak and scared. Often it’s women employees who get stuck with this label. Hopefully we can raise the awareness to stop this bias.
Good leaders try to reduce risk or, at least, understand the risks given the selected decisions. To do this, open communication is required along with good problem solving skills and scenario planning. A strong mix is required — planning, understanding, doing something positive, and being flexible to change when new information is available.
Many thanks Jon. What is interesting to me is that many leaders will engage as you say in assessing risk. Meanwhile if they have employees who often bring up issues of risk, they are prone to label them as worriers. My goal is to help change that!
It’s time that leaders/managers start honoring and rewarding problem prevention as much as problem solving.
Grateful for your input here,
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