A Leader's primary role is to ensure that a group of people produce a desired outcome. To accomplish this goal, a leader must encourage their team by setting a clear vision. The vision may be a short-term goal, such as a meeting agenda, or a long-term goal such as a five year plan. No matter what the goal, the vision is essential for motivating a team and getting others on board. But there are many leadership challenges today. One of these leadership challenges today includes something I call LADD - the Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder.
A CLEAR VISION DOES NOT INCLUDE HYPOTHETICALS
I once worked with a young leader who was in the process of building a company. She had a vision for her company and was filled with passion. The ideas, creativity, and excitement were flowing.
The interesting thing to me was that this leader faced an unexpected challenge. She was torn between two key tasks: creative growth planning and team building. For the first, she was trying to define what the business would look like once it was built and fully established. This meant that she was in a creative mindset, constantly developing new ideas. Some of these ideas aligned with the current vision and some did not. This is often what leaders must do when a business is in growth mode.
This young leader, however, didn't recognize the importance of differentiating between a clear vision and hypothetical ideas. Having a clear vision and discussing potential opportunities are two completely different things. In fact, they are functions of opposite sides of the brain. The result of mixing both sides of the brain in her leadership was that she had a very difficult time building a team.
The team members would hear creative ideas that appeared to directly contradict the previously set vision. The vision they thought they were supposed to be following and ultimately working towards each day. For example, this leader had set a vision where the company was going to merge with one of its affiliates. While brainstorming the long-term direction of the company, this leader considered the possibilities of keeping separate, specialized entities. The problem was that when she shared this potential opportunity with her staff, they began to get uneasy as they had been diligently working to consolidate processes and procedures between the two affiliates. When they didn't hear about this idea again, and the original vision was not being repeated, they began to loose excitement and motivation for moving forward in their established objectives.
By allowing her team to see her during her creative, idea casting mode, this leader was viewed as having a bad case of Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder, which ultimately lead to decreased productivity from her staff.
Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder can also occur on a smaller scale. For example, a great leader will lead a meeting by sticking to a clearly defined agenda. Good leaders often enforce "hard edges" which include starting on time, ending on time, allowing a balanced discussion, and keeping the group focused on a set of predetermined items.
I was recently on a committee where one of the senior leaders of the group had Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder. The committee was developing a strategy for a new product launch and were under a tight deadline. The chairman of the committee was working diligently to make progress and meet the approaching deadline.
The challenge for the chairman was that the senior leader kept derailing his agendas, causing the group to fall behind on their deadline. For example, the chairman recalls at least two instances where the senior leader brought proposals to the group that had nothing to do with either the set agenda, or even the goal of the committee. While the proposals were potentially important and somewhat related to the project the team was working on, they were outside of the scope of the meeting. The team did not have the authority to accept the proposals and the proposals had nothing to do with accomplishing the goals of the committee.
After two consecutive meetings were sabotaged by the senior leader, the chairman had to finally ask the leader to not bring anything outside of the agenda up in the meetings. The senior leader questioned why the chairman didn't appear concerned with his proposals to which the chairman explained that they had goals to achieve within a very short deadline.
The senior leader seemed to never really understand that he had a bad case of Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder.
STARTING TOO MANY PROJECTS
Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder can be a problem when a leader is trying to grow into a new position.
I recently experienced a young leader who was looking to get promoted into a senior position that was opening up. This person had the technical chops and education needed for the position and was one of two candidates being considered. The challenge this leader faced was that his Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder manifested itself by him starting too many projects.
He was part of a leadership team looking to grow a division of the company. He was given freedom to create initiatives that would grow his department. This leader had many great ideas and lots of excitement for this task. In fact, this leader started about a dozen different initiatives, all of which were great ideas for growing the department.
The problem was, however, that this leader had very limited resources in both the number of employees available to assist in the initiatives as well as his own time. What ultimately happened was that the sheer volume of initiatives this leader started stole the momentum from any one initiative taking off and actually growing the department. The result was actually just the opposite; the number of initiatives started were draining on the team and took any forward momentum away from the department.
The employee who ultimately got the promotion had chosen two clearly defined initiatives. His team was able to find supporters who got behind the initiative, helping to build momentum and grow the department. Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder can rob you of momentum by just having too much going on for any one initiative to be able to succeed.
When do you find yourself having Leadership Attention Deficit Disorder Tendencies?