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Do you come out of meetings wondering what the meeting was about? Are you invited to meetings because the team needs your approval, or have you been invited for your input? Have you ever entered a crowded company elevator and asked yourself “what do these people do?” When you are in a meeting, have you ever thought “haven’t we already covered this topic in a previous meeting?”

If you are still reading this article, you are probably infected with the reactive management illness, which is the main cause for corporate escapism. How then do you turn reactive leadership into proactive? Proactive leaders realize that periodically there are situations that are beyond their scope of control. In some cases these situations are the result of externalities of the market: changes in regulation, market interventions as a result of political agendas, or simply sudden changes in consumers’ attitudes. Beyond management control does not mean beyond the abilities of your management team to fashion solutions. The key for you as a leader is to engage your senior management team in proactive thinking, scenario planning, and developing a keen sense of how to execute options as events unfold. Leaders have a strategic plan. Proactive leaders Dialogue Q2 2018

assemble their senior management team regularly (at least quarterly) and ask a simple question: “What has changed in the world during the past three months that will impact our plan during the next six months, one year, two years?” Reactive leadership teams allow circumstances to dictate how they will proceed. Proactive leaders anticipate multiple versions of the future and take corrective actions. One way of thinking of this is to imagine you are captaining a ship travelling east, from New York to Lisbon. You know your true bearing won’t be far away from due east. However, as you cross the Atlantic, the Gulf Stream current is dragging the ship northward, and at the same time the wind is pushing the ship back westward. The ship’s engine is still running fine. Passengers are fed and in good spirits. Operationally, all is well as you drift further and further off course. As a result of these external factors, you – the chief executive or captain – must execute course corrections to maintain the heading. Experienced sailors can assess these factors and ‘tack’ the ship, using the forces of nature to increase the ship’s speed and maintain the course. Tacking does not happen in a straight line – it is a series of zigzag manoeuvres to overcome the external forces. With each move, we anticipate the direction and speed of the wind and currents and maintain an easterly direction toward Lisbon. As the ship gets closer to the destination, the movements become more and more refined. Management teams engaged in proactive leadership engage externalities in

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Dialogue Q2 2018  
Dialogue Q2 2018