“Our cause is the destination. Our strategy is the route. If we are to have impact, the destination must be fixed and the route flexible.” -Simon Sinek
For the military, training is a no-nonsense and serious process to prepare members for the possibly life-threatening situations they may encounter during their years of service. It is not only focused on physical preparedness, but adequately preparing each individual with the mental readiness necessary to survive in extremely stressful situations.
Very often training operations require placing individuals in real-life, crisis simulations to anticipate and determine how they will react…in order to better equip them mentally and physically for future situations. It is during these stress simulations, individuals are placed under duress to better inform their effectiveness to stay calm, alert, and mission focused as chaos and pandemonium erupts around them.
And while the conditions may not be life-threatening, leaders are very often thrust into stressful, crisis situations that require them to exert an aura of calm and confidence for the organization and people they lead. A difference is that many leaders do not have opportunity to practice the skills and behaviors to prepare them to execute decision-making in complex situations prior to the experience. Much of leadership proficiency and confidence is acquired through hands-on experiences.
Which is a reason that reflection serves as a vital and necessary component of leadership development and growth. Leaders must be vigilant in mentally preparing themselves for when stressful, crisis situations appear. It is too late to prepare when the situation is upon you. You have to know what you stand for…reflecting upon and having a strong grasp of your “true north” compass will streamline your ability and confidence to make decisions under duress.
It is important that leaders know where they stand in these critical moments, otherwise the ‘noisemakers’ will undermine your efforts if you allow it. In the same manner that soldiers remain calm and focused as chaos and pandemonium is unleashed around them, leaders must take on the same stance as the ‘noisemakers’ rise from the woodwork to question their decisions and direction.
When a leader has confidence in the vision and direction of next steps, clarity and focus are not interrupted from the clanging drums of the ‘noisemakers’. Whereas, a leader not grounded…will allow the ‘noisemakers’ to knock them off course and second-guess, or rethink critical decisions. This loss of confidence and focus can cause leaders to falter off-course, often losing focus on the path and vision for the organization.
What many leaders fail to recognize in the midst of these complex situations is that the ‘noisemakers’ are not the majority, rather, oftentimes they are few in numbers. We have a tendency to equate their volume with numbers. A volume which can lead to second guessing ourselves. Or even an inclination to change course under the stress of their blustering and booming drums. Especially when we are not grounded in our decisions. Unfortunately, it is after being thrown off course that many leaders realize that the ‘noisemakers‘ were only a slim populace of the organization, and not the voice the group. Just the loudest.
That is why leaders, without ego and a servant’s heart, must set direction and move forward unremittingly towards the vision for the betterment of the organization and those they lead. It requires clarity, focus, and an understanding of the big picture and the steps necessary to get there. The ‘noisemakers’ will always be there, especially in times of change. They will not be hard to recognize, for they garner a lot of attention. And as a leader, you will have to learn to decipher the ‘noise’ from the real and necessary feedback. Remember, when you push for change the system always pushes back. Seeing the ‘noisemakers’ for what they are can often serve as the difference between necessary change and status quo. When we truly understand our why…it is then, we can then face the ‘noisemakers’.
“Those who believe the route can not vary don’t get very far. Those who believe the destination can not vary change the world.” -Simon Sinek