How is an effective leader like a skilled movie director?
Often, we think of the director as the one who yells, “Action!” . . . that word on a movie set (when everything is ready to go) that launches the actors and crew into creating and capturing the scene.
But it takes more than just a command from the director for a scene to play out well. If no preparation has been done, there won't be anything worthwhile to film. And yet, if the director never issues that command, the film won't roll and all that preparation will go to waste.
The same is true in our lives.
Benjamin Franklin said that “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail,” and Thomas Edison proclaimed that “good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
But it’s all academic if we don’t heed the wisdom of Jason Fried who said, “What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”
As a leader—in our personal or professional lives—we’re faced with the same challenge. Have we prepared enough to significantly increase the odds of success, while not becoming so well planned that we paint ourselves into a corner, leaving no room for spontaneity or creativity?
It’s a balancing act, for sure, and effective movie directors are skilled at utilizing their full team to prepare . . . while inspiring them to deliver their very best work when the moment is right, even under trying conditions .
So, where do you fall on the spectrum between planning and action?
Do you over-plan, hesitating when you should be moving forward? Or, do you tend to jump into action too quickly?
Whichever way you’re inclined to lean, we’ve found that the best way for leaders to find the sweet spot between planning and action is to be in touch with the heartbeat of their team; to ensure that as many of the known "gotchas" are covered as possible; and to then take action, jumping with courage into a well-planned unknown.
Here’s your Thriving Challenge for the week:
Think of a project, process, or decision that you’re involved with.
Ask yourself where you fall on the planning/action continuum.
Check with those around you and respond accordingly . . .
Planning more where required or readying yourself and your team
to take the kind of inspired action that will allow you
to deliver your very best performance.
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Will Wilkinson and Christopher Harding