Leaders must have the confidence and competence to effectively lead in any situation. Situational awareness is a critical skill every leader must continue to hone. Leaders must analyze and assess every situation before choosing a course of action. As the situation changes or new information is gathered - leaders must alter his or her plan to give their organization the best chance of success. Planning is a continuous process as is the constant assessment of an organization's situation.
Leader's must be vigilant to any changes which may impact performance; misjudgement of a situation can have costly results. For example, when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, "there is no chance of a downgrade of the United States credit rating." Other's took his words as gospel. He defined the situation for many people who considered him an expert despite early and repeated warning from the credit agencies to the contrary. This may have a lulled lawmakers into thinking they had more time to play out their political drama versus meeting the demands of the credit agencies to slash spending. Either way Geithner dramatically misjudged the situation. The first results will be felt by the world today.
Leaders must assess the following when calculating courses of actions.
- What is the objective?
- What is the operating environment? Who are potential allies? Who are potential competitors? What are the oportunities and obstacles offered by the macro situation?
- What resources are available - time, money, team, technology, partnerships.. etc ?
- Where are the opportunities in the venture? What are the potential payoffs?
- What is the potential downside in the venture? What are the potential risks?
- What will it take to organize and prepare for success?
- What investments will the venture cost - money, time, talent?
- What are the opportunity costs to the team?
- What is the chance of success?
- Who will lead?
Once you have considered all of the above - then you determine your potential courses of action and settle on a plan which gives your team the best chance for success based upon the operating environment and the disposition of your resources.
Leaders do not and cannot live in a bubble - they must master the art and science of situational awareness to achieve sustainable success.