Responding and Reacting

The most important job of the leader is to anticipate, because the second most important job of the leader is to deal with situations and circumstances that threaten the overall direction the leader (or organization, or family) is trying to lead the organization.

When dealing with these threats, large or small, the leader has two choices: he/she can choose to respond or react.

Both options are situational - that is, they are a potential way to deal with the given situation.

A response is measured and controlled. It reflects anticipation. Obviously, the leader can't anticipate every situation that might complicate his day. He has to anticipate that.

Reactions are reflexes. You can't possibly predict the outcome of a reaction before it happens; it just happens.

Think of a tennis game. Great leaders are like great tennis players. Great tennis players respond to the ball. You see them begin to move even before their opponent hits the ball. They're anticipating where the opponent will place the ball, or simply getting to a place where they could respond adequately to several different actions.

Great tennis players don't react. Great tennis balls react. They spend all their energy going wherever the most recent situation (racket) sends them. They're never in control, never able to make any progress. All they do is react.

Which kind of leader are you?