The sustained pressures of unanswered questions, unsolved problems, and an unknown future have caused leaders to pull back, hesitate, and in many cases, play it safe.
Here are a few statements from leaders in the past few weeks.
- I know we already committed, but I’m not sure this is the right time to build.
- Maybe we should wait to launch the next campus.
- I think I need to hold back in my preaching with all the cultural tension.
- Maybe we should not hire anyone right now.
When you are on the front lines of leadership, these are not easy decisions.
One pastor said about his preaching in light of the cultural tensions, “If I say nothing – I’m in trouble, If I say the wrong thing – I’m in trouble, If I don’t say enough – I’m in trouble. Basically, I’m in trouble.”
Totally understandable, but not the best perspective. By his own words, saying nothing is a problem.
Playing it safe may seem like a good idea because the leadership landscape is so uncertain.
The truth is, we are responsible for leading, and the nature of effective leadership is not a safe proposition. Leadership takes new territory; it moves us into the unknown.
Playing it safe doesn’t work.
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why.
1) If you coast internally, you will stall externally.
I strained a muscle this week working out; the smart thing to do is pull back for a few days by skipping a workout or two.
It’s important that I allow only the needed time to “coast” (do the minimum) and get back in the game, or my fitness will stall. And we all know that an extended stall results in a decline.
This past year acts as a sustained muscle strain; you have stressed your leadership muscles, so we naturally pull back. That’s smart for a short time, but you have to get back in the game to prevent a stall.
The curious thing about coasting as a leader is that you still feel exhausted because you are so stressed from these past months of craziness.
The remedy for some is to get the rest and renewal you need but watch that process closely, so you define a time to get back in fully and no longer play it safe.
For others, the remedy is to stay in the deep end, navigate the rocky waters with a guide because you need to keep moving.
Which one fits you?
2) Playing it safe is actually a high-risk move.
Do you have any money invested?
I’m not an expert by a long shot, but we’re all aware that knowing when (or if) you should pull your money out of a volatile market and move it somewhere “safe” is a high-risk move because it’s even more difficult to know when to get back in.
The previous point (#1) takes a personal approach; this point takes the same idea but addresses it organizationally.