Want to lead? Look for a leadership vacuum

“Working here sucks.”
“My boss is incompetent.”
“No one there knows what they’re doing.”
I hear comments like these all the time from frustrated people.
The more I coach, the more I see them indicate incredible opportunities. I see them as leadership vacuums—situations where no one is leading effectively but that lack leadership. People without skills to act effectively get frustrated, angry, impatient, etc and the more they feel powerless the more intense their emotions get.
For people with skills, these situations are opportunities to act as the leader the project needs. People with those skills recognize other people’s titles and authority don’t mean they know what to do. They know someone has to do something. If they do it, they’ll emerge as the leader, independent of titles. People will treat them as a problem-solving leader because they led people to solve a problem that no one was solving before them.
Some situations are convoluted enough that it’s possible nothing could fix it, but the more I coach people through such situations, the more I think people describing situations as impossible are describing their skills and imagination.
If no one knows what they’re doing and you aren’t improving the situation, you don’t know what you’re doing. What’s the point of complaining about others. How do you intend to lead or improve situations if you can only help when your help isn’t needed? Or if when times are difficult you look to follow?
The more I coach and lead, the more I enjoy leadership vacuums.
Great performers—athletes, actors, musicians, etc—look forward to great competitions and performances in front of large crowds. Poor performers fear them. Similar things.
Read your emotions. They tell you where to find problems. Developing skills tells you what to do.

Leave a Reply