TerryStarbucker: 15 Leadership Short Cuts (That Are Dead Ends In Disguise )

Below is a blog post from Terry Starbucker.

15 Leadership Short Cuts (That Are Dead Ends In Disguise )


I fell in love with road maps when I was 4 years old, paging through my dad’s Rand McNally atlas in the backseat of our Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 as we made our annual trips to northern Minnesota to visit my grandparents and extended family.

(Quick aside – it was quite a cool car for its day, check out the pic)

It was a two day trip, so I had plenty of time to do my version of “route planning”.  Even then, it didn’t take me long to start looking for short cuts that my dad could take that could take a few minutes off our trip.

One time, when I was 8, my obsession with maps got to the point where I became the classic “backseat driver”, barking out suggestions (well, commands actually) to my very patient father.

On that occasion, I found a wonderful short cut on Minnesota highway that I proudly insisted we take, and just to shut me up, my dad complied.

Turned out, that short cut led to a dead end that forced us to double back and make the trip even longer than is was supposed to be, and it took another 5 years before my father would dare listen again to one of my “suggestions”.

And so it goes in the business world with short cuts.

We all want to shave time, and even effort, off of our tasks and journeys – it’s a natural instinct, especially when deadlines loom, and/or the pressure’s on, and you need to deliver on several simultaneous fronts.

But as more human leaders, we MUST resist that temptation in many, many circumstances.   Because those short cuts may buy you a little time, or give you a nice victory, but over the long term, you will hit a lot of dead ends.

Here are 15 that you should particularly stay away from:

1.  Push Down a change in policy (or a new policy) “as is” without any context (the “why?”)

2.  Play the fear card to get immediate results

3.  Put out major communiques just via e-mail and/or texts

4.  Ignoring personnel issues just hoping they go away, or simply “shooting first and asking questions later” to “force” them away.

5. Doing stuff on your own without consulting your team, or cutting off debate prematurely, just to get work “out the door”

6. Moving on to a new task or goal without a post-mortem (and any approriate praise and/or coaching) on the last one.

7. Relying on the employee manual “to the letter” (also see #4 above).

8. Hiring just on your “gut” (and the need to just get a body at a desk).

9. Doing the easiest things on your “to-do” list, even though they are way down the list.

10. Not double-checking the math (yes, even if it’s on a spreadsheet).

11. Tell lies or make false promises to avoid lenghty and messy confrontations.

12. Never re-evaluating or challenging exisiting metrics and goals “since they’re not broken”.

13. Skipping the “get to know them & care about them” part because it takes too much time away from the “real business”.

14. Teaching by saying things only once.

15. Assuming people know what you are thinking without telling them.

Indeed, these are short cuts on our leadership map, and early on in my career, I fell to temptation and tried just about all of them.

Take my advice and don’t try these roads – I’ve been to the dead ends, and they’re not pretty.

Stay on the more human road, and lead well!



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