For the past 4 months I have been struggling with my health, and this struggle is providing ample opportunity for lessons in leadership. If you read my blog last month you know that the key focus has been my heart. Doctors found a little hole in my heart called a PFO and that led to 2.5 months of testing and chasing down the rabbit hole of The Importance of a Heartbeat. After extensive testing and two different cardiologists, the verdict is that my heart is an Incidental Finding.
An Incidental Finding | My heart | An Incidental Finding.
Functionally the doctors don’t think that the small hole in my heart could be causing the health issues I’m having that are limiting my quality of life and physical abilities. So, we’re back to square one of what could be causing these issues. From a leadership perspective I’ve been stuck on the term “Incidental Finding” for the past couple of weeks since hearing the Harvard graduate doctor say the words.
How often in life do we get tunnel vision based on something that appears to be obvious and put all our eggs in one basket? I suppose in the medical field, insurance and science drive the behavior of wanting to be sure or rule something out before moving on. Back to the leadership realm. How often do we chase down a rabbit hole, only to learn what led us into the chase and the hole was an Incidental Finding? Are we asking how many customers complained about the service they received, or are we investigating the circumstances surrounding the complaint before we reprimand or coach a team member, or change a process or procedure? Are we asking how many and why employees are unhappy with management before taking action against leadership or restructuring teams? Or, are we making sweeping assumptions based on limited data, information, or experience that have significant impacts on morale, engagement, and functionally results.
Are we exploring the multitude of facets of situations for more than just the Incidental Findings? As leaders, we must.
There is a great lesson to be learned from Incidental Findings. We should not be letting them rule our lives. We must look until we have significant or meaningful findings before we take action; actions that have consequences that are often counterproductive to what we want. Assumptions lead us astray quickly; down those twisting, turning rabbit holes underground where it’s dark and unclear. Where we blindly make decisions. We must take the time to get a complete picture and stand in the light of the truth.
I don’t believe as leaders we have to operate off of 100 or even 90 percent certainty in most cases. Yet operating off of 5, 10, or even 20 percent certainty is reckless. It’s demoralizing to our teams, and frustrating to our customers. We create unnecessary change based off of Incidental Findings.
Thankfully in my case, I didn’t have heart surgery to repair an Incidental Finding. We’re on to exploring my lungs now. What’s important to me is that I feel better. And, I’ve got a doctor who is working in service of making that happen.
What Incidental Findings have been leading you astray in your leadership? What rabbit holes are you stuck in? Where do you need to get curious and find significance and meaning to lead effectively?