Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Preparation and Spontaneity

Two contrasting episodes today:
1. Spent an enjoyable with Hugh Brewster of World Vision Canada's Partners to End Child Poverty program and Scott Jones from Micah House reviewing some material from the LEAP workshop that Scott and I attended with Hugh a couple weeks ago. LEAP is an intensive process in developing project designs that is based on a large amount of research and preparation. It is a major undertaking to complete their model, but one that will result in as reliable a design as can ever be hoped for.

2. Read this article from Gordon MacDonald on the importance and value of intuition in leadership. He emphasizes the need for acting with conviction at times even when the apparent reality may conflict with your inner sensitivity.

These represent a tension I feel in every leadership situation in which I find myself. When is it appropriate to invest significant time and effort in working through a carefully developed strategy and when should I take the risk of going with gut instinct?

I like what MacDonald says about developing a stronger sense of intuition. I also like Hugh's emphasis on doing proper diligence. I can think of times in my life when I regret not doing both.

Effective leadership is always a matter of existing within the tensions of each situation and acting with courage in light of the obvious and subtle pressures and risks. Those that get it "right" most often are most effective.

Whether the tensions are between more research/taking opportunity; respecting budget/acting in faith; pursuing the vision/caring for the people; or any of the other variations on the theme; ultimately leaders are often those who are willing to define the issue at hand and decide among the options with a willingness for responsibility.

In the best of situations we are able to do our preparation deeply and then rely on intuition to determine which of the choices to pursue.

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