Leaders love starting lines, and they love finish lines. But effective leaders know that the battle is often won in the less glamorous “in-between” lines.
Starting lines provide energy and excitement. They represent the launch of a new project or initiative. They represent take off, lift off and the possibilities of a new leadership adventure.
And, as a leader, you love finish lines too. Finish lines provide that tremendous sense of accomplishment. They represent a goal being accomplished, a task being completed or a vision being fulfilled.
But often overlooked in the excitement of a starting line or the thrill of a finish line, are the important lines in between. To maximize your leadership, you need to become a master of these in-between lines…
1. The Vision-drift line
Teams may bolt out of the starting line with crystal clarity as to the purpose and direction. But sometimes they can veer off course.
At the point where the Vision-drift line has been crossed, it’s up to the leader to steer things back again.
2. The Agility line
After a while, the tried and true methods can stop being effective. New approaches are needed. But teams can sometimes shrink back from exploring new ways of doing things. They can resist crossing the agility line.
Leaders need to spot this hesitancy and encourage the team consider alternate strategies.
3. The Energy line
Sometimes all of the momentum that emerged from the starting line just seems to dissipate long before the finish line is reached. Leaders need the discernment to recognize when the energy line has been crossed; when renewed momentum must be restored.
4. The “Back to the Drawing Board” line
It’s a fine line between noble determination, and sheer stubbornness.
And that’s another line that leaders must navigate carefully. When a project is not making progress, leaders must know when it’s time to inject more horsepower, and when it’s time to say, “Team, this is just not working. We need to re-think this.”
Too often, the space between the starting line and the finish line is considered to be the domain only of management. While exceptional management is indeed required to move a team and a project from the starting line to the finish line, so too is this the place where exceptional leadership must show up.
Because so much of leadership is required between the lines.