Leading Through Misguided Priorities

Have you ever noticed that when you send some people a multi-part e-mail, that they only answer a few parts, and seem to evade other issues completely? Many organizational leaders will acknowledge and answer certain parts of the contents that are either not controversial or fall into their “agenda,” while overlooking the more complicated queries.

In my few years in a leadership position, I have been continually astonished and saddened that so many volunteer leaders seem reluctant to make the challenging decisions, while continuously discussing on issues that they want to, although often less urging matters. Simply because an issue or topic or question is difficult or challenging, is certainly not a reason for a true leader to avoid the matter. One of the true measures of leadership is that a leader cannot bypass any issue, but rather must have the vision to brave any obstacle.

Many organizational leaders that I have met lacked many of the constraints to be effective. However, the most disconcerting issue continues to be an unwillingness to confer pride, effort, and vision, and answer questions openly and sincerely, without concern for how it might influence one’s popularity. It is not a virtue for a leader to lack the courage to speak out on significant issues while making a “racket” over some less pressing issues.

Effective leaders learn to prioritize and to act according to their preferences. Priorities must be set in terms of short- term pressing issues, intermediate-term concerns, and long-term potentially damaging situations. Because of the lack of stress on training leaders, organizations are often hindered, and sometimes even irreversibly degraded, by this lack of vision, courage, and relevant discipline. Taking powerful and provocative action should neither be taken lightly nor rushed into.

Matters should be thoroughly reviewed and discussed while still in a preparatory stage so that possible issues do not turn into damaging and lingering matters. Almost always, it is far easier, less costly, better management, and more effective, to address matters early, and can properly evaluate the “big picture.” Narrow-minded leaders who lack insight are often afraid to act, and it is often this lack of action, that is far more damaging than the original issue. There should always be a good balance between practical problems, proper evaluation, thorough research, and not rushing into something without assessing everything. Effective leaders must examine the big picture, and act when necessary. Leaders cannot and should not pick and choose concerning issues to consider, especially when these individuals do not properly estimate which is and should be a true preference.

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