Take a Step Back – Andy Wynter

Last week the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to dominate the news. There has been a lot of discussion, commentary and concern over the decisions being made around local lockdowns and delays in opening certain businesses and industries. There has been a rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 infections and as a result the Government are having to adapt and change strategies on an ongoing basis. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the real challenges of managing an ever-changing crisis. Sometimes leaders fear taking steps back because of how that might be perceived by others.

There is always a preference for progress to be efficient, consistent and straightforward. However plans rarely are that straightforward and changes are often required. In most pursuits, it’s good practice to stop, take a step back and take stock, in order to go forward. In many cases, taking that time out and taking steps back can be an effective move in catapulting projects forwards.

As leaders we sometimes fear taking steps back, as it may appear weak or indecisive, this possibly comes from military strategies derived from battles and wars where victory was won not by retreating but by moving forward at all costs. Field Marshal von Blucher was the commander of the Prussian army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was nicknamed ‘Marshal Forwards!’ for his aggressive military tactics, pursing Napoleon’s retreating army throughout the night. He was seen as a courageous determined commander.

Even so, it’s not weak to step back to tweak and change those things that you may not be happy with. Its strong leadership when you question performance, re-explore opportunities and reinvent more effective and efficient ways of working.

Leaders need to recognise that the unexpected can happen in business, projects and life no matter how great the planning, Covid-19 is a prime example of that. It’s at those times that it is good practice to stop and reflect before moving forward. The process of pause and reflection can give you a new and innovative perspective.

In American Football ‘time-outs’ can be crucial in winning games. They allow for the clock to stop and gives teams time to set up their offensive or defensive play. It’s a chance to take stock and re-group and a chance for the team to take a breath – and go again.

In life how often do we sit and seriously reflect – looking back at what we have done and what we want to achieve in the future? Do we take time considering the steps we’ve taken on our journey of leadership or any other important journey? In that self-reflection and self-monitoring, how often have we had the courage to pause, to re-evaluate, and to maybe take a step back in our roles, so that we are better equipped to move forward in the future?

Find the time to step back, to reflect and re-examine what you are doing. Take time out to manage those pressures and stresses of life that we sometimes face, especially in these extraordinary times. Do not be fearful of retreating backwards – you don’t have to be ‘Marshal Forwards’ to win your battles.

Have a great week everyone and remember: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes.”

You can find the original post on Andy’s LinkedIn here.

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