How to Navigate the Dip Before the Surge

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What good things are you currently doing that could be preventing you from doing great things?

Every leader and every team rely on a certain number of key initiatives, strategies and “best practices” that fuel important results. But effective leaders also know some of these very strategies may be the stumbling blocks preventing you and your team from optimizing future success.

At some point, best practices can easily and subtly become anchors to growth and momentum. And if you’re not aware of this shift, you can miss new opportunities.

Several years ago, while helping to lead a nonprofit organization in Canada, a team member pointed out a concerning trend. A handful of key training events we presented each year seemed to be running out of steam. They still produced solid results, but there were indicators that they had reached their expiration date.

We had an opportunity to take on a new event, but it was unproven in Canada. In the long run, it could have had great impact. But in the short term it would likely be a struggle.

It’s the vision to see beyond the short-term dip in order to experience the long-term surge.

The new event we were considering? It was The Global Leadership Summit (GLS).

The event was just emerging on the international scene and we weren’t quite sure if it would find solid footing in Canada.

Our organization took the plunge and committed to a long-term success despite the possibility of a short-term struggle.

Craig Groeschel calls this “leading through the dip.”

Leading through the dip is the courage to endure a season of struggle, hardship or uncertainty, knowing it can lead to renewed momentum, impact and growth.

It’s the fortitude to be willing to see familiar strategies wind down so emerging innovations can produce new opportunities.

It’s the vision to see beyond the short-term dip in order to experience the long-term surge.

Every team and every leader will, at some point, face a “leading through the dip” moment; that decisive turning point when you must recognize that it may be time to set aside the familiar, and even the successful, in order to embrace new opportunities.

To navigate such moments, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What strategies are starting to feel just a bit stale?

  2. What new opportunities could represent a new, bold future?

  3. How willing are you to lead through a season of uncertainty, or even decline, in order to fulfill that future?

Here’s the reality for leaders. Growth is rarely a straight, uninterrupted line “up and to the right”.

Growth, progress and momentum often begins with a season of decline before that growth kicks in.

So, hold your present strategies loosely, and be willing to shift towards bold, new, even untested opportunities as they arise.

Just be prepared to lead through the dip before you experience the surge.

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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