The Input Paradox

January 24, 2013 — 2 Comments

iStock 000008365172XSmall 300x199 The Input ParadoxWhen you take your leadership seriously, you are on a constant search for input.

“How am I doing?”
“What do you think”
“How did that go?”
“Am I on your short list?”

Before I go any further, let me stop and warn you.

This is one of those “do what I say… not as a I do” posts.

I don’t have this handled.

Maybe you wrestle with this too.

Perhaps we can work on it together.

The Trouble With Input

Leading well is edgy.

You will tick people off.

And… if you are leading well, you will be on a constant search for how you can lead better.

At any given point you will have just annoyed someone.  In fact, at any given time, you may have done something that really made them mad.

And thus the Input Paradox

In an ideal world, when we make our courageous choices, there will be a locker room of support, patting us on the back, yelling…


The truth is, your most courageous moves will likely be made quietly…if you are lucky.

More probable, those moves will be made against opposition and naysayers.  Your best decisions may be made with very few saying “amen”.  In fact, they may be made against such an onslaught of differing views that you begin to question your own motives, values and credibility.

Here’s where it get’s tough.

Should you listen… absolutely? perhaps?  no way?

In my life, all of those have been the right answers… to input received from credible sources.

Good Advice, Kept Warm

Some of the best input I ever received from a senior leader was this:

“I question your stance on X….  But… Karin, stop thinking about what we all think. That’s just going to make you bat shi_.

Keep your head down, do the right thing. Lead courageously, and get results. That’s all that matters. If that’s not enough, that’s too bad.”

I have been carrying that in my heart.  It goes a long way.

At the end of the day, you must lead from you.

If you lead to please, and it hurts your heart, something is wrong.

In fact, in might just make you “bat shi_.”

it’s worth a close listen to your heart.

Move and lead from there.

 Where could you use a little less input? 

See Also

Seth Godin, Out on a Limb (great link audio link included in this post as well)

Development Deluge:  Are You Working Too Hard

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2 responses to The Input Paradox

  1. There isn’t one answer.

    At some point, you as the leader need to make the call.

    Most importantly, whatever you decide, needs to be in alignment with the long term values of the org. If you deviate from here, you’ll lose credibility as the leader. And, followers will be less willing to follow and give you input.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. And the point you make Steve is an excellent one which I share, and perhaps to take it a step forward I also feel strongly about ensuring that when I choose a course of action it must also align with my personal business ethics. I believe strongly that it is much easier to remain consistent and credible when you are making decisions based on your own organizational and personal values.

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