Where are you?
Sometimes it’s just about context. Yesterday professional golfer Dustin Johnson blew a chance to win his first major tournament because he hadn’t taken 60 seconds to read the specific rules of the course that were posted for all the players to see. A lot of fans were annoyed that a seemingly small violation caused by a somewhat innocuous error was so costly. But all the fault was truly with the player and his caddie. I’ve seen the same thing happen in a number of leadership situations. We are so eager to do something, to prove ourselves, or to get started (insecurity?) that we don’t take just a little time to understand the environment we’re in and how it might impact the ideas and plans we’ve developed in our own minds. In working with high school leaders one of the tasks I assign them is to do a ten minute anthropological analysis of their own school. I send them out as observers to notice what is happening throughout the building, what is posted on the walls, what kind of people are honoured, what kind of interactions they can see. In just ten minutes they come back with some very insightful perpsectives. We then compare their gleanings with the “official” mission statement of the school that is posted on the website. It’s always informative. Whether you are new to or long time established in your organization, take ten minutes as this week starts to walk around, look at what’s on the walls and how people really interact, and notice things in your context that should be influencing how you function in your role. It just might help you avoid a major error.