4 Ways to Seize “Real Time” Leadership Moments

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Updated from February 24, 2014 post

This week the executive team of the Willow Creek Association engaged in a robust day of candidate interviews for a key position on our team.

As full a day as this was, this was simply one more chapter in a lengthy, and deliberate, process that has been unfolding for many months. And this process has reminded me again that leadership is not just about the destination; it’s also about capturing leadership moments in real-time along the journey.

As I noted in this earlier post, I call this “On the Way Leadership”.

“On the Way Leadership” was best modeled by the person many of us consider to be the greatest leader of all time; Jesus of Nazareth.

It is uncanny how much of what Jesus accomplished he did while “on the way” to someplace else.

It seems that for Jesus there were no throw-away moments. Whether it was a teaching moment, a chance to bless someone, or indeed an opportunity to perform a miracle, Jesus consistently did some of his most profound ministry not just at his destination, but while he was still on the way.

Effective leaders can learn something from this.

On the way leadership takes place when you seize a coaching moment to help a team mate learn from a mistake. It takes place when you provide a timely word of encouragement to someone whose shoulders are sagging. It takes place when you ask for feedback from staff members who happen to be walking by your office door.

How does it work? On the Way Leadership has four key components:

1.   Intentionality

On the Way leaders are always on the lookout for leadership moments where ever they are.

2.   Margin

Leaders who frantically operate at Mach 10 speed rarely have the time or bandwidth to take advantage of On the Way moments.

3.   Flexibility

You need to be able to take a detour in your carefully planned day if you’re going to take advantage of these moments.

4.   Creativity

Not every on the way moment will present itself in an obvious way. You also need the creativity to look at a routine situation with a view to uncovering a leadership moment.

None of this is to downplay or diminish the importance of leadership at the destination.

Just remember that for effective leaders your best contribution might just happen on your way there.

How have you leveraged ‘on the way’ moments in your leadership?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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