Bias for thoughtful action

This powerful concept arose in a recent leadership meeting, but what does it mean?

We are often told there are 2 kinds of people in this world; those that make things happen and those that watch things happen. I’ve always tried to be in the former category but my leadership journey is teaching me it’s not that simple. Leaders also need to watch, and then act, or watch, then think, then act, then think again, then act again. [1st of 5 paragraphs]

Today’s email inbox indoctrinates us with a list-driven mindset to getting things done (plus there are other dangers with email which I wrote about here.) Equally many of us are driven by actual lists, in fact entire notebooks of lists which we hack through with a vague notion of making progress (my own methods here.) Meaningful leadership and getting things done in large organisations requires much more iterative (Agile) and non-linear ways of working, ie action isn’t always progress. [2/5]

Leadership means influence; the two concepts are mutually inclusive – each can only be present with the other. There are many ways of achieving influence and thereby demonstrating leadership – but one thing is constant; leaders influence people. Having a bias for action means you naturally lead from the front, setting the example of getting things done – but how much is it then actually your way (or the “high way”?) [3/5]

A colleague resolved at the beginning of the year “to be mindful” and I’ve observed him achieving this – with great results. It doesn’t mean over-analysing every decision or second guessing every plan, it just means a constant filter on our leadership behaviours that balances progress with direction, people with tasks and importantly creates a culture of more consistent delivery at a sustainable pace. [4/5]

There is nothing wrong with having a bias for action, but perhaps a bias for thoughtful action is even better? The tried and trusted “look before you leap” that we just need a constant reminder of as we run from one time starved, under-resourced project to the next jam packed workshop with countless demands in between. Take some time to think (deeply), then act (meaningfully) – your bias for thoughtful action will still get things done, only better. [5/5]

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