Champion Leadership Tip #32 – The 3 Options Great Leaders Know They Always Have

Have you ever had someone come to you stressed and frustrated because they felt they had no options, no choices in a situation. They felt backed into a corner with no way out?

Great leaders are able to see through this and can guide their people through the darkest situations.

They do this because they know they are always options.

They also do this because they understand the “Law of Requisite Variety” -which states, “in any situation the entity with the most options at its disposal will always be the most successful.” You can learn more about the “Law of Requisite Variety” here.

Sometimes I feel this way when it comes to election time. So many disenchanted voters stay home from the polls because they are unhappy or uninspired with the state of politics. So, instead of making their choice from among those on the ballot, they vote by staying home.

But, even in those less than ideal electoral scenarios we always have a choice and not making a choice on election day, for what many may see as a choice on the lesser of two or three evils, does not empower us to be part of the process and contribute to the greater good.

This is not a civics lesson in voting philosophy but a leadership lesson.

Because great leaders know they are always options, three options to be exact and they consistently apply and teach their team members about these three options.

The 3 Options are:

  1. Choose to Influence
  2. Choose to Accept
  3. Choose to Remove

Let’s take a brief look at each:

  1. Choose to Influence
    This is where leaders and teams decide to step up and take control over the things that are within their control. They evaluate the situation and make decisions to influence the areas over which they can. They take action in those areas and make adjustments and further decisions along the way to improve the situation.
  2. Choose to Accept
    This is where leaders and teams decide, of their own free will, that it is a battle not worth fighting. They consciously decide that the challenge is not a priority and energy would be better spent influencing other areas. With this choice it must be understand that “choosing to accept” is truly “accepting” the situation and “letting go” of any stress, ill will, desire for it to be different. There is no harboring of resentment against other people whom there may be a feeling of causing the situation.
    It is true acceptance!
  3. Choose to Remove
    This is where a decision is made to move away from the situation. This may mean physically leaving the area, asking for a transfer to a new department or division, selling a home and moving to a new area, etc. This may be a leader has to remove an individual from the team because they are no longer a good fit for the team.

There can also be “mini-removals” that can be less draconian so that one can cope with a negative situation, such as limiting time spent with people that send negative energy or a just not a good fit with one’s own personality.

In leadership situations when the performance of others on a team impacts the results of the team, leaders have only two choices. Leaders can not choose to accept poor performance and behaviors detrimental to the team or the organization for which they have responsibility. But, they still always have two choices and it is the best leaders who consistently, and promptly work through those two choices to move their team forward.

What about you? How effectively do you manage the three options always at your disposal in your professional and personal life?

Those that do are happier and healthier as they do not live with nearly as much stress as those that fail to acknowledge the choices that are right in front of them.

‘Til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance