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Is Your Leadership Developing or Diminishing?

| May 4, 2010

by Jim Bruce

A few weeks ago Angela Bell from the University of Iowa shared Dan Bobinski’s article “Is your leadership developing or diminishing?” with her cohort and now I’d like to share it with everyone.

As Bobinski, a training specialist, author, and president of Associates at Leadership Development, indicates, too many leaders easily get caught up in the immediate and forget, or neglect, the important.  

He notes that at the core, leaders are responsible for identifying the best course of action, to keep their organizations on track, and monitoring and acting on three key factors:

1.  Ideas – opportunities and possibilities for the organization

2.  The horizon – those trends, predictions, advances in technology, etc. that will impact the organization’s future

3.  The organization’s capabilities – knowing what the organization can and cannot do.

But, doing this, while necessary, is not sufficient for having a successful organization.  In addition you must:

4.  Communicate ideas throughout the organization

5.  Listen carefully to feedback

6.  Adjust ideas based on feedback and the horizon

7.  Equip the organization for meeting its goals.

Seven action items for your practice as a leader.  Bobinski doesn’t leave it there.  He tells you a story to cement the ideas in your mind.  You are a river guide for a whitewater rafting company:

“When you start a trip down the river, the main mission is to provide an enjoyable but safe journey for your guests.  You have some ideas of what you can do to keep things enjoyable but safe, but you also know the river can change daily.  So, throughout the trip you keep your eyes on the conditions of the river – the horizon.  You also remain aware of the capabilities of your oarsmen.

”As you’re floating down the river you look ahead and notice a large tree branch jammed in some rocks (monitoring the horizon).  You need to avoid it (a good idea), so you shout a comand for those on the right side of the raft to start rowing hard (good communication).  Unfortunately, everyone on that side of the raft suddenly discovers their oars are broken, probably from the last set of rapids.  But when they tell you, your only reply is “Just make it happen!!  Row now!!”

The error?  Not listening to and responding to the feedback.

I hope you’ll make this guide a practice as you continue your journey.


Have a great week.  .  .  .  .  .     jim