My judgment of leadership skills is often driven by performance when things fall apart.

Being well-prepared is fairly easy, and when things work success is usually achieved. But sometimes things just go bad- someone screws up, something stops working, a delivery is missed, etc. What happens next is what matters.

Some leaders freeze up. They just can't develop a plan on the fly, even in a just-get-through-the-next-moment way. This goes back to their original planning, as Plan A was dependent on everything working in the right way the first time. It's foolhardy to think that way, because something always goes wrong. It just does- accept it and develop plans that mitigate the damage that occurs.

This does not mean you must think through every possible option out twenty steps like some kind of multi-dimensional chess. That is bad leadership of another kind.

But when that moment happens you must rely on experience of what worked in the past and a quick judgment of your present options. Pick one. Observe how it plays out. React to it by making another step. Maybe you steer the whole thing back to Plan A, maybe not. But improvise a plan and roll with it. It will probably be fine.

If you and your team are really good, the folks paying the bill won't know anything went wrong.


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