Detach and TAKE ACTION.
I think you will agree with me that taking the proper corrective action when a problem arises can be tough.
The issue that most leaders struggle with is detaching from the situation so they can clearly see what action they need to take.
As a leader myself, I was once guilty of this on grand scale. I had sputtered in my new role for close to a year until finally, I put my ego aside and took the one action that caused much of my success that I have experienced 6 years later. I would love to tell you that this crucial action was some ultra-impressive feat of will power. Truly, it was just putting my ego aside and asking my boss for help.
Within 3 weeks I was not only right back on course, but I was able to create serious momentum that continued to build years! I finished in the top 10 of the company for yearly sales increases the next 3 years. I also built a connection with my boss and proved that I have what it takes to improve, and ultimately win.
In this article, I will teach you about detached involvement (detachment for short) and how to use that sell to view situations more clearly so you can take the corrective action needed to get you back to winning.
The Secret Leadership Tool: Detachment
When there is an area of life that you’re experiencing a lack of performance in, being able to detach yourself from the situation will allow you to see what’s actually happening. When you’re involved in something, you have an emotional connection to it. This emotional connection causes you to develop “blind spots” and can render you unable to take corrective action on problems that are negatively effecting performance because you simply don’t see them!
A Classic Example of Detachment
When you go out to eat at a restaurant, and it’s a busy Saturday night, as a leader you can easily look around and see some of the things that are bogging down the experience. You are the fifth person on the waiting list and you can count four empty tables that are yet to be bussed.
The hostess that took your name for the waiting list wasn’t very friendly and seemed stressed in the busy environment. She was likely not the right person for this job and you can tell easily.
Once you do get sat at a table, the server’s actions can be picked apart. He should have introduced himself, he rushed the specials list too fast, he’s too slow at filling the drinks, etc.
You can easily spot all these areas where service can be improved because it’s not your restaurant. You’re detached from it, so you can view it AS IT IS.
The Circumstance Illusion
Now why does the restaurant have all these small problems? Because the manager can’t properly see them. There is a story behind the story, and it’s one of justification, and excuse making. If he even sees these performance issues at all, then he will likely view them as circumstances that are out of his control. That’s the circumstance illusion at work.
If you were to point out that the hostess was frazzled and not ready to handle the seating of customers on a busy Saturday night, his response would be a reason that she has that job.“Kids these days just aren’t as driven as we were back then!”
If you were to show him that there are four tables waiting to be bussed and guests waiting to be sat, his response would be an excuse for the slow service.
“Staffing isn’t as easy as you think on the weekends. I had three call offs tonight!”
Notice that the situations occur as a circumstance that is out of his control. The Circumstance Illusion.
Intentions Don’t Pay the Bills
Since he’s so involved in the store, he views the issues differently, and this distinction is an important one. He views things as he INTENDS them, not as they are. When something is wrong, there is a reason, or an effort to fix it that hasn’t happened yet, or it’s on a to-do list, or he’s been too busy doing something else so he hasn’t had time to address it.
The problem is a circumstance that he has the best intentions for, but due to his connection to these problems, he can’t see just how big of a deal they truly are, and can’t see a way to fix them.
Flip the Focus
Now, let’s flip the focus to you instead of the fictional restaurant manager.
As Leaders, it is critical that we detach ourselves from our situations so we can see them objectively, and then give orders to adjust course so we can improve and accomplish the mission.
If you’re stressed, don’t complain about it and feel sorry for yourself.
If you’re tired, don’t search for all the reasons why.
If you’re understaffed, don’t shrug because it’s hard.
DETACH. Then take action.
Here are the 5 Simple Ways to Detach so You Can Take Action
1. Remove yourself from the situation – Take a break, and gather your thoughts.
When you’re in the middle of a situation, especially a crisis in an area or your responsibility, you run high on emotions. We all know that good decisions are rarely made in an emotional state. So, remove yourself from the situation by simply walking away to a quite place where you can think for a few minutes. Gather your thoughts, and then head back in with a plan!
2. Phone a friend – Call a mentor or a peer that can help you get to a calm mind-state.
Often when you’re in crisis mode, and you call someone you trust and explain the situation to them, you realize that it’s not nearly as much of a crisis as you thought. Before they have time to respond, you’ll calm down, and then tell them the correct actions that you need to take. You know it, you just can’t see it until you detach!
3. Take a literal step back – Viewing a problem from another vantage point adds clarity.
This one is not figurative. A change of scenery can help immensely. If a problem needs solving and you’re working in the office, grab your cell phone and sunglasses and head out for a walk to think. If you’ve been staring at the same issue all day and can’t figure it out, do something, even drastic, to see it from another angle or light. Stand on a chair if you have to!
4. Be aggressive – Go after the issues and solve them!
Aggressive is a mindset. It means that you don’t wait for things to blow over, or hope they will get better with time. Aggressive means assertive, and that is asserting yourself and your will when and where necessary. It doesn’t mean committing career suicide though! It can be a talk with the boss. A one on one with a co-worker that there was a disagreement with. Or just calling your wife or husband and telling them that you won’t be home for dinner tonight because you’ve got to stay late and GRIND.
5. Get a hold of the ego – Your pride may be responsible for getting you into this mess, so don’t rely on it to get you out!
When you out your ego aside, and focus on getting the issues handled, things will get accomplished! This can be similar to the story I told earlier about asking for help, or it could be you’re in competition with someone for promotion and you don’t want to appear weak. Check the ego, so you can see the issues clearly and solve them!
6. Write it all down –
Getting things off your mind makes space to create.
I carry two journals with me in my backpack at all times. One is a personal journal, the other is a work journal. When I have something on my mind that I can’t solve, I write. Sometimes a lot! It gets that junk out of my head, on to paper, and allows me to sort through the mess. I will then organize the thoughts into a list, and then take a deep breath. And then get aggressive in completing the list that I just made! You can read more about that here
As a leader, the ability to detach, allows you to lead the team in the direction they need to go. Put the ego aside, take a deep breath, get your mind-state calm, gather your thoughts and then get on the attack!