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Attack! Attack! And Attack Again!

"I don't want to get any messages saying that, 'We are holding our position'. We're not holding anything! Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding on to anything…" General George Patton

One of a manager's greatest sins is to break his or her momentum. Staying in an attack-mode keeps people sharp and focused. It maintains a pressure to perform and leverages momentum. It gives you an insanely unfair competitive advantage that sends competitors reeling. At this week's meeting, discuss the following four areas where you must continue to attack.

1. Attack when things are going well. One of the greatest temptations of a leader is to let up when things are going well and start to pace their team. It's as though success spooks them, and they stop thinking big and begin thinking incrementally. When you are on a roll, you have momentum and this momentum is the great exaggerator. It's a leader's best friend. Take advantage of your momentum by continuing to set stretch forecasts and refusing to rest, celebrate or reflect too long. People are not at their best when life is too comfy and safe. They will let up if you let them. Success can make people arrogant, complacent and turn them into know-it-alls. Attacking when things are going well is a remedy for surviving success and using it as a steppingstone rather than as a pedestal.

2. Attack poor performance: especially when things are going well. The normal tendency of leaders is to tolerate poor performance from certain individuals when things are going well, because overall, results are good. Thus, they end up waiting until the bottom falls out before confronting poor performers. This is a tragic error. It costs you much more to lose your momentum when you're on a roll then when you tolerate weak links while business is good. You're creating conditions where they can break your stride and inflict significant damage. Prune your roster when you're on a roll and you'll stay on a roll, longer and more consistently. Poor performance is a debilitating disease and you cannot afford to give it safe quarter. Attack it on good days and bad days, when things are on a roll or when they're in a rut, but especially when you're on a roll so you're less likely to wind up in a rut.

3. Attack the status quo by taking mature risks. Taking mature risks is the only way you can develop a competitive edge. You certainly don't develop an advantage by playing catch up and following the herd. Again, the best time to take a risk is from a position of strength, not out of desperation. When your game is going well, don't sit on the ball; run up the score. You cannot climb to a higher and distant peak by climbing higher on the peak you're already on-by optimization. It takes change and innovation to get to higher and distant peaks. In fact, sometimes you have to come down off the peak you're already on and walk through a valley before ascending the higher peak. This involves risk and change, both of which unfreeze the status quo in your workplace and act as a catalyst to breakthroughs. After all, breakthroughs don't take place in safe environments. Where little is at stake, little often happens.

4. Attack the job market with proactive recruiting. If you want to build a team of eagles, you must go from waiting to be hunted to being the hunter. If you only recruit, interview and hire when you have holes to fill you'll hire a lot of the wrong people because as desperation rises, standards fall and you settle too early, too cheaply. By the way, if you're one of the many who believes where you live is unique in that there is a shortage of talented people, get real! There is no shortage of talented people, period! It's just that the most talented people are already working. They have jobs and are productive for someone else. They aren't reading the want ads. Bottom line: the only way you'll hire great people is if you talk to great people. This means you attack the situation by devising a strategy for attracting passive candidates (those not actively looking for work) into your workplace. You can rest assured that you'll never build a pipeline of talent if the only time you recruit, interview and hire is when you need someone.

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