Leading In An Avalanche

The point I want you to take away from the video above and the text that follows is an avalanche need not always end in disaster. Pushing the envelope is something all leaders must get comfortable with. It’s when leaders push themselves and those they lead past comfort zones that great things happen. Sometimes leaders need to cause an avalanche, and sometimes they’ll need to react to one caused by circumstances beyond their control. Whether the avalanche occurs by design or default, real leaders don’t panic – they lead.

This may sound a bit counterintuitive, even a bit strange, but I like messy leaders. By messy leaders, I mean leaders who are not afraid to shake things up. Good leaders don’t fear ambiguity, aren’t afraid to travel into uncharted territory, and they certainly don’t fear breaking things. The best leaders are more than willing to embrace chaos, and even create it if doing so leads to more fertile ground.

There’s no doubt uncertainty will flummox the timid or the unprepared. However real leaders understand uncertainty creates opportunity for deeper understanding and significant growth. If you lead long enough, crisis will eventually find its way to your doorstep. If you want to assess the quality of a leader, watch them very closely when things don’t go according to plan. I’ve always said the real test of a leader is what happens in the moments following the realization they’ve triggered an avalanche…


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    George McCormick

    February 19, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Very interesting. A new way to think about how leaders react to a crisis whether beyond their control or not. Something to make me think about. Thanks.

      Mike Myatt

      February 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Thanks George – thinking outside of normal patterns is a very good thing:)

    Dionne Lew

    February 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Mike a different way of showing a message – I really enjoyed it –

    Skip Prichard

    February 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Terrific! Yes, sometimes leaders do need to cause an avalanche. It can cause temporary confusion, but there are times it is the only way to achieve a goal. And the lesson: leaders “don’t panic-they lead” is timeless. Thanks for the thoughts!

    Audra August

    February 20, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Real leadership is definitely messy. Leading others through an avalanche requires a personal commitment and perseverance to confidently navigate through the uncertainty. Creating an avalanche requires courage. Thats the work that needs to be done in all of our organizations – and its where we need to step up as leaders. A thoughtful post, Mike.

    Dain Dunston

    February 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    This reminds me of Mario Andretti’s line, “If you’re not a little bit out of control, you’re not going fast enough!” Leading people through change — and that’s what we’re all doing — is by definition human and messy and that’s what makes it exciting.

    Alastair Macartney

    March 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Stepping outside of your comfort zone, and understanding how you will react when you do so, is critical for leaders that may be placed in high pressure situations. http://almacartney.com/blog/step-out-of-your-comfort-zone-4-simple-techniques/

    Scott Hunter

    March 22, 2013 at 3:39 am

    When leaders push themselves and those around them, far out
    of their comfort zone is when great things happen. Well said. A good read. In
    absolute agreement.

    -Scott Hunter


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