Taking Action Regardless of Circumstances

In a recent conversation with a client, he said “I know I should be taking action on this big decision but I just can’t, there are too many circumstances that are preventing it.”  That statement got me thinking about what allows leaders to take action inside of circumstances rather than getting stopped in their tracks.

I believe that the best leaders are always looking for the “next action” to keep progressing things even when it looks like it’s not possible due to circumstances.  Often, we get conditioned to see circumstances as barriers rather than opportunities to expand our perspective, explore new solutions and get creative in our approach.  

So, consider something this past week where you felt stopped due to circumstances - a conversation, meeting or decision you did not take action on.  What had you feel stopped? What were the circumstances? What potential new actions could you have taken? Let’s discuss some strategies to take action regardless of circumstances.

When you realize you are putting off taking an action, take a moment and ask yourself:

  1. What is the actual action I need to take here?
  2. What circumstance is causing me to delay taking action?
  3. What information do I need to move forward?  How will I gather it?
  4. What are three small actions I could take today to progress things?

This sequence of questions will help you get unstuck and back into action.  Even if the small actions include reviewing your plan, re-reading information or having discussions with colleagues, you are still moving forward regardless of the circumstances.

The ability to stay in the game, take action to progress things (even when others feel it might be impossible) will set you apart from other leaders.  A leader who can get unstuck and help others also get unstuck is important in our VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

So, what can you do in the upcoming week to take new actions on “that project” or “that situation?”  What new perspective do you need to take uncover new approaches and/or help your team to do so?

When I worked through this with the client mentioned earlier, he said “I just think we should re-set the entire plan, what we are doing isn’t working and really won’t, that’s why we can’t make a decision, our thinking was wrong at the start.”  I went with him and said “what if you did re-work the plan, is that even possible?” He said not only is it possible but necessary so he contacted his key leaders on the project and asked them to review the plan and present their ideas on new approaches.  Within a week, they were able to uncover some problematic assumptions they had made with the plan, re-work it and actually get the project back on track and get the entire team back in action.

Look forward to hearing from you and how these questions can serve you as a leader!

Weekly Uplevel Practice

In the upcoming week, take time to work through the questions mentioned above:

  1. What is the actual action I need to take here?
  2. What circumstance is causing me to delay taking action?
  3. What information do I need to move forward?  How will I gather it?
  4. What are three small actions I could take today to progress things?

Then, get creative and identify new actions that you can take within the next 24 hours.  Who do you need to involve? What new information might you need?