One of the pitfalls that can stop potential leaders is the desire to focus on vision to the detriment of facing reality. But good leaders are both visionary and realistic. The Law of the Scoreboard in from John C. Maxwell book The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork states, “The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands.” In other words, reality is the foundation positive change. If you don’t face reality, then you will not be able to make necessary changes.
Bill Easum, president and senior managing partner in Easum, Bandy and Associates asserts, “Realistic leaders are objective enough to minimize illusions. They understand that self-deception can cost them their vision.” That was true for me. My high belief in people and my desire to protect people I loved got in the way of facing the truth—and being honest with them when their performance was hurting the company.
If you are optimistic, and you naturally encourage people, as do, then you may need to take extra care to look reality in the eye and keel’ yourself grounded. Continually cast a realistic eye on
• The Situation—it is often worse than you think.
• The Process—it usually takes longer than you think. • The Price—it always costs more than you think.
If you lack realism today, then you may lack credibility with others tomorrow. As people says, “Facing current reality is o: nasty, but necessary.”
In Managing in Turbulent Times, Peter Drucker writes, “A time of turbulence is a dangerous time, but its greatest danger is a temptation to deny reality. To guard you from that danger, there are following questions that need to ask yourself. They might help you handle the nasty but necessary realistic of life.
Questions Needs Ask to Help Me Define Reality
- What is reality in this situation? Do others agree with my assessment?
- Can I identify each issue? Can I breakdown reality to better understand it?
- Can the issues be fixed? Separate the solvable from the unsolvable
- What are the options? Establish a game plan.
- Am I willing to follow the game plan? My commitment as a leader is essential.
- Will my leadership team follow the game plan? Their commitment as leaders is also essential.
These questions allow you to look realistically at the issues rather than glossing over and putting a positive spin on them. As leaders, what we do or don’t do always has consequences. We can try to maintain an unrealistic outlook or lifestyle, but someday we will have to pay a realistic price for it. There is no avoiding it. That was the case for me. After years of losses in my company, I had to sell a sizable interest in an investment to cover them. Every cent came out of pocket. Someone once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, and that should be sufficient” As a leader, I was the one who was fooled. And the worst thing was that I had done it to myself! The greatest fool is the one who fools himself.
The ability to define reality as a leader means embracing realistic thinking so that we can see the consequences of our actions further and with greater clarity than those around us. Why is that important? When you are a leader, other people are depending on you. You inability to correctly define reality in your organization ultimately hurt not only yourself but others. People lost jobs, teams were torn apart, dreams went unrealized, and most sadly, some friendships ended.