Where do I start to Become a Disruptive Leader?

Foggy MorningHow can we start to disrupt the status quo?   Where do we begin to make the radical change? What is the first lesson in becoming a disruptive leader?

In this series I detail the five steps to becoming the disruptive leader in the 3D world of radical change.  In this first lesson, we focus on pausing to plan and practice.  Watch next week for the second lesson where I focus on anticipating the opportunity.  But first, let’s pause to consider our photography metaphor so we can become the disruptive leader.

The first question to ask is “What are my leadership habits?”

Amateurs grab their camera, jump out and start shooting. I know because that is the habit I am working hard to change. I love being in nature so much that I have not been willing to wait to capture the moment – or should I say, I DID NOT wait. I was too excited and too impatient so I clicked the shutter too soon and later I would delete too many photos far too easily. That is not the way to be a great photographer.

That is also not the way to be a disruptive leader.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in leadership is that we make the significant difference when we pause to plan and practice. It is easy to rush into the experience and begin barking orders, making knee jerk reaction or rash assumptions. It is also easy to follow the habits we have already developed or ones that the organization and industry has long practiced.  It isn’t quite as easy to make the apology for our rash decisions or admit to our mistakes when we let the team down.

The result of disruptive leadership is desired change, not just more of mediocre results.  In the same way, great photography is that which makes others stop and admire the work.  It is making their world come alive in a way they did not expect. They did not expect it but are glad you made that change happen.

Do you jump in and fire away or have you learned patience to step back, pausing to consider the best action?

The second question to ask is, “Why do I rush in?”

Most leaders don’t take the time to plan, choosing to be tactical or operational rather than strategic. While this is exhilarating because we love the action, it doesn’t yield the disruptive change. Like my photography, I love clicking the photos hoping for something better. But doesn’t that sound like Einstein’s definition of insanity? We do the same things over and over and hope the results will change.  Duh.  That is STUPID.

Too often leaders focus only on taking care of the immediate problems, delivering the goods and meeting the immediate deadlines. That might be good for the short term, but it is not disruptive. It is merely effective management.

Why are you not making the bold, strategic decision?

Management does NOT Create Disruptive Change.               

Bold Leadership does.

The third question to ask is, “When do I find the time to plan and practice?”

In a recent trip to see my son and his family, we scheduled a time to go to the mountains to improve our photography.  We purposely scheduled it because otherwise the time would slip away and we would lament the missed opportunity.  So now, every time we visit, we schedule a time to practice and improve.

Disruptive leaders don’t find the time – they take the time. Their schedules are just as busy as lesser leaders but their priorities are different. They know what is ultimately important.  So they schedule it.  They don’t wait for the time to magically appear but instead they schedule it and make it a priority.  Planning is important because it turns reactive panic into confident proactive behavior.  Without planning leaders become reactionary, putting out fires that flare up – often because they have not taken time to put together a strategic plan.   With planning, there is a confidence and a power to see through the bedlam to get the desired results.

Is your day dictating your action or are you strategically working your day?

The fourth question we ask in this lesson is, “How do we do that?”

Taking time to plan requires patience and discipline, looking ahead to know what will be needed to excel, not looking at the present or the past and wondering how to avoid a crisis.

My son and I have developed a new habit of planning.  Once know the weather forecast, we talk with our wives and schedule the outing.  We make it a priority and also know there are tradeoffs.  So we also schedule a time for our wives to go to lunch while we take care of my grandson.  Actually this is no sacrifice as we love spending time with him.  But we find the time by focusing on what is important and then making it happen.

Disruptive leaders make time for what is important.  Mediocre leaders complain they never have enough time.  Now wonder the leaders who take the time to plan and prepare find incredible power to do what others consider impossible. In the end, “they” wonder how “we” do it.

There is incredible power in taking the time to plan and practice.

  • Are you rushing in?
  • Are you tired of the mediocre results?
  • Are you willing to take these steps today?

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I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I help aspiring and emerging leaders do what followers and critics think is impossible. Watch for a big announcement coming soon.

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