I first remember carrying a flashlight at summer camp. Coming back to the cabin after the campfire would have been pretty treacherous without one.
Something got me thinking about flashlights recently. As I thought about them, I realized that as leaders we need to have a flashlight available for a variety of reasons . . .
Flashlights help you see where you are going. When it is dark and you need to see, a flashlight is the ticket! Flashlights give you enough light to operate, even if you can’t see everything. Sometimes teams and organizations are “in the dark”; they don’t know what is happening, so productivity drops to a crawl and people act as if they are immobilized. Often, leaders don’t have a clear view either, or in some cases can’t yet share all they know.
In these situations, remarkable leaders recognize that they need to give people a flashlight.
When they sense this challenge, regardless of the causes, they shine the light forward and (at least) limited vision can be achieved. This vision, murky as it may be, will improve productivity, reduce anxieties, and produce forward progress.
Flashlights move as you move. Flashlights are helpful if you are stationary, if you are trying to work on something. But the beautiful thing about flashlights is that as you walk forward, the light moves with you. Remarkable leaders know that they must help their teams see the next steps in any change or uncertain situation. Just as you can walk safely in the dark with a flashlight, when, as a leader, you keep people seeing the next steps, faster and steadier progress can be made.
Flashlights create focus. By shining your flashlight on a particular target, you can focus on that target, understand it, and “see” it. As leaders, we often need to focus people’s effort on a particular target, and so, like a flashlight, we can shine the focus on the desired target. When we can focus ourselves and others, we will get better results.
A flashlight is a valuable tool in any dark situation. And since the world is full of unknowns and an unseen future, as leaders we serve our teams well when we carry our flashlights and use them wisely.
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