Have you ever missed the bus?
I have. When I was in 7th grade I was held after school because I slacked on my math homework and the teacher thought keeping me late would help. When I finished my work I realized I had a much worse problem to solve; I had missed the school bus!
When facing new problems, less experienced teams respond in ways that seem right to them, but their plans contain high risk.
In my case, I lived 9 miles away. Fortunately I knew exactly how to get there. And I made a quick assessment of my situation:
• I had no cell phone and no access to a phone
• My parents would be expecting me at the bus stop and would be worried
I decided it was my responsibility to get myself home. My plan was to get to the highway and hitch hike a few miles to take me the rest of the way. So I set off to reach my destination . . .
Teams miss the bus too
Sometimes, don’t we find our teams in similar situations when they encounter new problems? In response, they develop plans that seems right to them, yet are filled with risk and little chance to succeed in an acceptable time frame. Without fully understanding the situation their determination and grit keep them walking with their eyes on the goal.
As leaders we need to keep our eyes open for our teams that have missed their bus; when we pay attention we can pick them up and re-position them for success.
My leader cared enough to be looking out for me
Fortunately when I was in 7th grade, my parents came looking for me, found me and took me home and we talked about better alternatives I hadn’t thought of and positioned me for future success.
As a good leader, we take the responsibility to grow and mature our teams and keep them from needless damage.
What can we do today?
A few questions we can ask ourselves to give us a hint if our team may have missed the bus:
• Is our team working hard without accomplishing much?
• Are they only reacting to the environment?
• Can they show us where they are on the map and where the team destination is?
• Do they have rest stops built in along the way to refuel?