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Great Leaders: Safety First

What I am about to say might sound like a contradiction to my last blog, but if at the heart of great leadership we find a desire to take care of our people then we must agree that there is no singular blueprint for decision making as a leader. The truth is there a time and place to burn the ships and stay the course, there are also rare times when a leader needs to retreat.

With summer winding down many people are getting outside for one last trip to the pool or the lake. A few weekends ago a friend of mine when to the lake with some colleagues. The plan was to leave the dock and head to a marina on the other side of the lake for lunch. On that particular day the lake was very crowded with many other boaters and the water was very choppy. There was plenty of reason for caution and most boats were taking a slow and conservative route as they maneuvered around the traffic on the lake.

But on this trip it quickly became clear that no one on the boat trusted the captain. He was not slowing down in traffic, he was speeding through rough water and he was more concerned with how cool he looked than the comfort or safety of his passengers. The truth was his passengers were terrified and no one was enjoying the ride. While the goal was to get to the other side of the lake a true leader would have put the needs and safety of his passengers first. The reality is there were other options; slow down and get there later but safely, or take a less congested route and go to a marina that was closer for lunch or, abandon the trip altogether and return to the dock.

People will go anywhere and do anything for a leader who cares for them. This is the perfect example of a time when a leader should have abandoned the plan out of respect and care for his people.

As a leader are you willing to change your course of action to protect your people?