Do me a favor. Take just a moment and watch this video.
Isn’t that amazing?
I love what they say at the end of the video about the cheetah’s legs and feet—it’s almost an afterthought, but it’s such a good lesson.
“These modifications provide the cheetah with increased traction and fast, sharp turns.”
When we think of cheetahs, we think about their ability to go fast. What we don’t often think about is their ability to change directions while going fast, or the way they get back up to speed once they’ve had to pivot.
But it’s that exact skill—the ability to change directions quickly and return to high performance—that makes the cheetah so effective. And it’s the same skill that can catapult your leadership, if you’re willing to embrace it.
I’ve been thinking about this idea for a long time because it’s the subject of my newest book, Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace. The book will officially release on February 5, 2019, but I want to start seeding you with some thoughts about why learning to leadershift is so important.
First of all, we live in a fast-forward world.
Not too long ago, I was asked to offer some thoughts on the phrase, “fast-forward”, and I noted that in the digital age, fast is faster and forward is shorter.
What I mean by that is the pace of change in business and life is so accelerated that a leader has to just buckle in for the ride. Short of the internet disappearing, things aren’t going to get slower. And because of that speed, the time frame for success is much shorter. When I was a young man, a long range plan was ten years; nowadays, it’s more like two.
So as leaders, we have to realize and embrace a fast-forward culture.
The second thought I want to share is that our leadership must be agile to remain viable.
I won’t spend too long on this thought, but let me just ask you this: when was the last time you proactively changed something with your team? The best leaders don’t wait for change to find them—they seek change because they understand its value. Agility is essential for leadership.
And with that, here’s the third thought I want to share: agility plus consistency makes a great leader.
My friend Simon Sinek says it this way:
“One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.”
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, leaders who are both agile and consistent, “have high quality standards, achieve goals, and expect consistency, but are also open to change, keep an eye on the external environment, and understand when old ways of working no longer pass the test of the market in which they compete.”
That’s exactly what it means to leadershift—to regularly make instantaneous, minute adjustments that allow for an almost-missed opportunity to become a seized opportunity.
As a leader your goal is to be a cheetah. With the pace of business and leadership steadily accelerating, leaders can’t afford to stay the same. Opportunities are abundant, but it’s up to you to develop the agility you need to stay on top.