Why Leaders Must Know How To Seize An Ice Cream Season

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There’s a huge difference between generating momentum, and simply enjoying momentum.

That’s a lesson I learned in my days as a younger leader, serving as the chair person of a non-profit organization. During a board meeting, as we reviewed some very strong accomplishments of the charity, I said to the board, “This board has achieved incredible results. Just keep doing what you’re doing!”

But a more seasoned member of board chimed in with this pearl of wisdom. “Scott, we should be pleased with these results. But from a leadership point of view, I think we’re just scooping out ice cream.”

He explained, “Sometimes an organization can have so much momentum going for it, that the leaders really just get to enjoy the ride. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s not think that our current efforts will be enough when the going gets tougher.”

As I’ve looked more closely at this over the years, I’ve seen that there are at least three ways that leaders can find themselves scooping out ice cream…

1. When they’ve inherited a great team

Ever been appointed to lead a team who were already crushing it before you even showed up? That’s scooping out ice cream.

2. When they’ve received a “blue bird”

In sales terms, this is when a big account just drops into your lap, with essentially no effort on your part. When you reap such benefits with minimal effort, you’re scooping out ice cream.

3. When the waters part for the team

Sometimes, external forces just combine to make conditions ideal for your team’s success. Recognize the “scooping ice cream” moments when everything around you seemingly lines up perfectly to ensure success.

So, in order to position yourself for long-term results, how should you respond during these ice cream scooping seasons?

1. Respond with humility

You didn’t generate these conditions. Lead with gratitude.

2. Prepare for a rainy day

Take advantage of the season of plenty to fortify your organization for the inevitable downturn.

3. Lead with ruthless discipline

It’s easy for bad habits to creep in during these seasons. Double down on personal and corporate disciplines.

Just be honest. If you didn’t really contribute to the current season of momentum, keep these 3 responses in mind.

Then, enjoy the season. Just grab a scoop.

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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