When I run in enjoy running on different terrains. In my neighborhood there are streets, sidewalks, running track, bike trails, gravel paths, and trails in the woods. Each terrain causes me to run differently.
The terrain determines my focus. If I’m running on the street I can run faster and look farther down the road. If I’m running on the trail, I have to slow down and look at where my feet are landing. It definitely keeps me focused. If I don’t stay focused on where I am I could twist my ankle stepping on an exposed root or in a rabbit hole. My running style depends on the terrain.
In leadership it is the same thing. We lead groups of people on different paths and each path takes a different kind of focus. If you are leading down and well-traveled paved street you can move very fast and focus more on where you are going than where you are. You don’t have to worry about rabbit holes or exposed roots. They have long been removed by those who have gone before you.
Yet, as leaders, we want to get down the road as fast as we can. Good leaders know the path they are on; great leaders adjust their leadership style to fit the terrain. when you are leading down well-traveled streets you can speed up, set the cruise control and focus on what’s next. This is vision time, strategy time, and dreaming time.
When you are leading on trails that are unfamiliar you have to slow down. Make sure your landing on solid ground. Take time to get everyone on the same path. Some will be able to stay on the path with you and others will not. This is presence time, relationship building time, high communication time. You are close to those you lead during this time. Don’t try to talk about what’s next when you are not even sure what now.
3 things about leading on the terrain
Know the terrain
Adjust your speed
Determine your focus