The Explorer Who Never Set Sail

Leadership Focus Entrepreneurship

The Explorer Who Never Set Sail


We have all known people who claim they would have seen the world, if only this place hadn’t been so expensive, or that place hadn’t been so far, and on and on. The same can also be said for executives and entrepreneurs in leadership positions who don’t want to rock boats, get agreement or change perceptions. For example, there are leaders who come across a workplace challenge and avoid it because they don’t wish to fully explore a possible problem or a different perspective. In their mind, leaving well enough alone, or dismissing the perspectives of others, is preferable to bringing about meaningful changes. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, for many executives it is better to stay with a workplace problem than to arrive at a “truth” that may prove to be a good solution.

VIM Executive Coaching feels another approach might be more effective and that is to encourage exploration rather than avoidance. It is better to leave the imaginary dock and head out to the sea of sharing perspectives and gaining new insights, than to play it safe.

What is the Real Truth?

In life, and especially in the workplace, “The Truth” can be a very elusive destination. Every employee, whether an executive leader or a lower level manager has their own perspective. We know that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, even though it is an expression we have heard a hundred times before.

“Let me be absolutely truthful with you,” an executive might say to her team in an important staff meeting, “our performance has been substandard, our production goals have not been met, and I know exactly why.”

Everyone in the meeting other than the leader silently groans, for everyone is well aware that any situation is never an absolutely truthful perspective. Perhaps one or two present in that meeting might have very different perspectives as to why goals have not been met, but they understand the executive was unwilling to explore other possibilities.

The executive’s absolute certainty of the truth might not include factors that others need to share. For example, the executive might be convinced that production should be much higher than what it is, but she blames poor employee training. However, the plant manager needs to explain that the new production machinery has unanticipated problems with an ingredient in the formulation. In the past, the executive has not wanted to hear about such problems.

No one owns the truth. We have different perspectives and the better executive leaders and entrepreneurs understand that there are no absolute truths. It is not a weakness to seek input nor is it a flaw to change or modify course in order to arrive at a better destination or a more agreeable solution.

In this case, the truth might include coming up with different manufacturing techniques or a change in the formulation, rather than sticking to the perceptions that employees were inadequately trained. It requires exploration to arrive at what needs to be done.

Responding to Each Other

Even if the executive is much closer to “the truth” than others on her team, it is still important to gain input even if it modifies the course only a few degrees. If we don’t explore differences or varying degrees of perception, the outcome of any task could eventually be off-course.

While there might always be ambiguities among team members, if the perspectives are shared and explored, the likelihood of a logical conclusion to a project or the journey can be that much more assured.

If the executive leader or entrepreneur is willing to explore, not only will the ship leave the dock, but the crew will be more engaged and the outcome of the undertaking more satisfactory.

VIM: - noun: lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality