As a leader, you know you can’t control everything that happens to you or your team; there are too many variables that operate outside of your direct influence. What you can control, however, is how you react to the unexpected.
The 3T model, a framework I developed after working with hundreds of clients over the years, is a tool to help us analyze trade offs associated with doing nothing, taking action or changing your mindset about an individual, team or organizational challenge
With every challenge we encounter, there’s a choice to be made. For those who like to see themselves as contrarian it’s helpful to realize that even doing nothing is making a choice. And the area where leaders tend to get stuck the most is with people-related decisions, especially when the stakes are high.
The 3T model frames our decisions and actions (or the lack thereof) as living in one of three contexts: tolerating, transforming and transcending.
Every leader has their own unique personality. Some are more comfortable tolerating unproductive behaviors and prefer to avoid making decisions. Others are more likely to try and transform everything and everyone – compelled to make change. Fewer of us, in my experience, actually choose to transcend and play a different game instead.
It might sound like I am advocating for transcending, but that’s not really the case. I’m advocating for us to become much more aware of how we make people-related decisions – that’s where the value lies. As leaders, we’re always making decisions. Even if it’s arguably the right or best decision, we’re not always realistic in how we evaluate the trade-offs of that decision.
Are you tolerating behaviors and situations because they don’t seem “that bad”? Avoiding initiating a change because getting the buy-in to do seems like it would be too time-consuming or difficult? Sometimes tolerating seems best for you and for the organization. When massive change is happening elsewhere in the organization, exiting a difficult employee with unique expertise or deep institutional knowledge could be ill-timed. But too often we assume doing nothing costs us nothing, and the truth is doing nothing always costs us. That’s because it takes energy to maintain the status quo. The question we have to answer for ourselves, our team and our organization is whether the energy we expend to maintain the status quo could be better used to transform something instead.
Are you ready to make a decision to change something, but unsure of which path to take? You see that you need to go on a different path for the future health of the organization. This might require making significant investments of time, money and energy beyond what you had originally planned to do. This might look like pivoting your business from manufacturing hardware to providing services instead, for example. Or, it might require you to evolve processes and systems across multiple teams. While these changes could be very positive, it’s difficult to get everyone onboard. Revenue or profits may take a hit in the near term while you reset for future success.
Future readiness and organizational agility require us to regularly rethink current ways of doing things – and assess how quickly we can obsolete them. Transcending means shifting our individual mindsets, culture or capabilities to such an extent that the challenge we were facing no longer impacts us. We’ve outgrown former barriers and constraints and are tackling new ones instead. Relevance is redefined.
The 3T model is just one of many for enhancing leadership effectiveness I address in my upcoming book, Learn. Lead. Lift. You’re invited to join the wait list to be one of the first to be notified when it’s released in 2020.