The freshly seeded lawn had a sign that was posted that read “Please Stay Off the Grass.” However many people just walked across the grass as if they didn’t see the large bold red letters on the sign. Failing to see the warning signs in life and business are a problem for some folks.
How many times have teenagers got in trouble before the parents saw the signs? How many times have you held too long on an important decision and the signs of change were obvious to everyone around you. Leaders have to be out front of things and watch for the warning signs.
Have you ever missed the sign while driving and ended up in the wrong location?
In college enrollment, having enough applications is only half the battle. You have to look for the signs of success in completed apps, financial aid apps, orientation numbers and housing deposits. You must make sure the signs stay positive all way through the system to create real success. It is easy to get caught in the day to day activities and miss the signs.
Some people will never see the signs and will always walk across the grass. Those are the people you should stay away from when building your staff. They will miss the signs that impact your success. It is often the little details that are the most important.
Then – there are people who think they know all the answers. They are the smartest person in the room and there is no need to look at the signs because they have it figured out already. The over confidence is a real threat to missing the cues and choosing the wrong direction. Finding the right signs means looking at situation “as it is” and not just how you want it or hope it becomes. The worst thing you can have is someone who reports things better than they really are. This false sense of reality can be the very thing that creates your leadership failure. Trust and honesty to communicate the good or bad is very important. Communicating straight builds trust.
If you don’t like the signs – don’t complain about them – just change it. No longer can we just set the plan in this economy and forget it. The market is always changing and reacting to the signs in a timely manner is critical.
Reading the signs requires the following:
1. Measure your progress from the “outside in” and not “inside out.” (benchmarking)
2. Watch for small trends that can show weaknesses or changes in outcomes (trends can be tracked)
3. Develop a team that can communicate the real picture in evaluating your progress (integrity)
4. Reward innovative solutions to problems. (give credit)
Do you agree that watching signs are important for today’s leaders? What are the signs you have missed?