If you watch American football, at some point you will hear the announcers talking about the quarterback keeping his eyes looking “down field” during the execution of a passing play. The idea being that down field is where the opportunities are. When their vision “comes down,” or gets focused near the line of scrimmage or in the flat just beyond the line of scrimmage, those opportunities get missed. So, why don’t all eyes remain down field? Well, depends on the play design, of course. But, it also depends on the defensive pressure on the quarterback. As pressure mounts, whether on quarterbacks or anyone else, our natural inclination is to get near-sighted. (BTW, no criticism here – I often comment that just one sack would put me on the injured list for sure.) Same for our leaders. As the pressure mounts our eyes come down. Our heads go down into the work. One-on-one meetings get cancelled. We eat at our desks. We disappear. Sometimes this is ok. Often, it is harming us more than it is helping. We need to keep our eyes down field. Everyone is feeling the pressure which means it’s a leadership opportunity. Consciously rebut the inclination and keep your eyes down field. Look for the opportunities to invest in the people and processes that will make tomorrow better.
Future leader speaker and author of the book Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future. Free stuff! Get the first five chapters of my new book, an executive summary, and the Future Leader Companion Workbook here.