As leaders navigate a very complex world, the task of decision-making and overcoming obstacles continue to be a major problem in organizations. A continually changing external environment makes the surety of internal resources that much more daunting. Thinking you are on the right track is not enough in today's environment. Will Rogers commented that you may be on the right track, but if you don't move, you'll get run over when the train comes.
It's not enough today to be a good leader. The world is searching for effective leaders and people are looking for someone to lead them and help them take hold of opportunities. The problem is that many leaders and people concentrate on their problems instead of opportunity. There are an abundance of examples where individuals were faced with adversity but refused to be identified by it, but rather took control and viewed it as an opportunity. One of the best examples is found in the Bible in 1 Samuel 17. We see one leader that has become ineffective due to losing his focus and an emerging leader with a different perspective.
You may might be on the right track, but if you do not move, you'll get run over when the train comes. --- Will Rogers
The story begins with the Philistines gathering their armies together for a battle against Israel. Saul gathered the army of Israel in battle array. Goliath, who was called a champion, would go out toward the armies of Israel. He stood above all other men at approximately 9'6". He would continually come out toward the army of Israel and threaten them. The Bible relates that King Saul and all Israel were very afraid. Remember, Saul was a man of war. He had conquered territories and other armies with no problem and had proven himself to his armies. Yet, in this situation, he had lost his effectiveness and because he was afraid, his people were afraid also. We see a man who was a great warrior now frozen in fear because of his perspective of what was before him. He saw Goliath as a problem that could not be overcome with the talents and resources that he had depended on up to this point. He allowed this problem to present itself 40 days with no solution presented to his people.
David came to bring supplies to his brothers who were in the army of Saul. While there, Goliath came out and, as he had done for 40 days , spoke insults to Israel. David heard the threats and presented a solution. He was brought to Saul, who after much discussion agreed to let him face the giant.
We all know the end of the story - David defeated Goliath, however, there is a great lesson in leadership here. David saw Goliath not as a problem but as an opportunity. An opportunity to add value to the army of Israel and the glory of God. In other words, Saul saw Goliath as a problem too big to overcome. However, David saw him as a target too big to miss. Look at some of the details of this lesson.
#1 David never discussed the problem with Saul but provided a clear solution. He presented his value to Saul and justified his talents and resources that he would use to delete the adversity. He told Saul why he needed him. Effective leaders have a confidence in their ability. They are clear as to what value they bring to the organization and to others. Saul had lost his confidence. He had allowed his perception to become clouded by concentrating on the problem instead of the solution.
#2 David outlined to Saul the good that would come from his solution and that the end result would be much better than the present situation. David cast a vision to Saul in a way that he could understand. He was articulate in laying out his solution and the plan to achieve it.
#3 David relied on his resources to accomplish the solution. Saul tried to put armor on David, which he was not used to wearing. In addition, David was a small boy at the time and the armor was more of a liability than an asset. People may try to evaluate you based on their strengths instead of yours. David was clear and told Saul that he could not use the armor. David did not allow Saul to take off the armor. David took it off himself.
#4 David went to the brook, gathered five smooth stones and placed them in his shepherd's bag. Good leaders match their resources to their strengths when facing adversity. This wasn't the first time David had slung a stone. He spoke examples to Saul of his past experiences, which again added value to his ability.
#5 David faced the giant and was clear as to his intention. He spoke directly to the problem, yet concentrated on the end result. He told Goliath who he was and what value he was bringing to the fight. He did not allow Goliath to diminish his strengths. Good leaders stay focused on the solution and implement the strategy. They use their resources with the end in mind.
#6 David related the current situation to the big picture. He told Goliath that not only would the birds feed on his carcass but also on the army of the Philistines. He told Saul that on this day, he would defeat Goliath. Effective leaders keep the end in mind and continually reassure their people of the outcomes.
Perception guides our thinking and, therefore, our behavior. If we think in terms of solutions, we see opportunities and outcomes. If we think in terms of problems, we see obstacles and defeat. Change your thinking and raise your leadership to the next level.
What is your perception paradigm?