Proactive leadership vs reactive leadership

What is your leadership orientation? Why are some leaders agile and fast while others tend to be laid back and slow in execution.

The answer may surprise you.

First, is context. Different environments call for different leadership orientations. In the private sector for the example, you need to increase turnover to exceed your costs. The rate at which your revenues increase must be more than the rate at which your costs increase —also know as jaws ratio. To generate a positive jaws, the leader must be proactive.

It is not enough to set the targets. The leader or manager must follow up daily to track progress on a daily basis, a leadership style referred to as ‘micro-monitoring.’ You don’t want surprises since every single day that goes by, costs increase and hit the company directly. No stories.

Reactive leadership, on the other hand, gives targets and assumes the staff will self monitor and account. It assumes people are focused and take self initiative, which unfortunately is not true. Most staff are like a car or bicycle whose wheels are not aligned. Each time you remove the hands off the steering, the car veers off the road. Such staff veer off the focus once the leader does not ask for accountability.

In government setup, where the problem is spending money that has been apportioned from the consolidated fund, the laid back or reactive leadership style can work since there is no pressure to pay bills.

No leader can seat and relax when they know they must pay month end costs. The need for urgency and high levels of efficiency is informed by the need to generate more revenue over and above the monthly fixed costs.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2019. All rights reserved

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