The Dangers of Operating on Autopilot
Imagine if I asked you what you did, what would you say?
I remember one leader laughing at me and said, "Come on Graham, what sort of question is that, you know what I do. I'm the CEO of a PLC.'
"Yes I do know that, but what do you do?" I replied and smiled back.
I asked him what he did when waking up and he shared his morning routine, his journey to work, where he parked his car and entered the building. I stopped him there and asked him what the name of the receptionist was... he didn't know.
I was shocked... so was he!
Oh and yes you guessed it, he parked his car right next to the door in the same spot every day.
He was on autopilot and not making meaningful connection with his people.
Now he has changed his routines, parks as far as possible from the main door and walks across the carpark with a member of staff when he can and talks to them. He takes the time to talk to Susan on the front desk, who knows everything about what is going on in the organisation, and mixes it up by wandering around the organisation asking questions and really listening to people before he goes to his office.
He now knows what really goes on in his organisation!
Are you on autopilot?
I love going to Senior Leadership Team meetings and changing the seating plan around. I love seeing the reaction on leaders faces when their normal seat is already taken.
If you get annoyed when your routine is disturbed then you are on autopilot and need to change.When you are always operating at tactical level then you want to check that you aren't on autopilot. Do we really need update meetings?
If you're constantly reacting to crisis then you also need to check you if you are on autopilot.In today's world we need leaders who can stop, think, craft solutions and then do.
In my previous career it was drilled to prepare, take aim, then fire. Many leaders and organisations are on rapid fire without aiming or preparing to fire!
Stop, reflect a while and check whether you have fallen into the trap of being on autopilot.
In a world changing so fast and in a world obsessed with efficiency, you may be really efficient at doing the wrong stuff!