This month’s newsletter is about leadership. More specifically, it’s about what your leaders are really thinking.

Coming up the ranks in various roles, I remember feeling frustrated at times when leadership would not “decide” or “give direction.” We were all working so hard; we often felt stymied by a perception that leadership was not “plugged in” to our struggles or to what we perceived to be the most important priorities.

One day, while lamenting all this to an experienced HR leader, she shared an unexpected but immensely clarifying observation with me: “They don’t know.” Much like the shock I once felt upon learning of the Tooth Fairy’s real identity and the actual source of those coveted dimes (yes, we were in pre-inflationary times), I couldn’t imagine that leaders in those big jobs didn’t have all the answers.

What I now appreciate is that sometimes, it is true, leaders just don’t know. But often, what they are focusing on with what they do know is not what is uppermost among the priorities of others in the organization.

With that in mind, and now that I am one of those leaders, my intent in raising this topic today is to share something I often advise clients, younger leaders, and my millennial offspring. In short, and to borrow a well-known tagline, “JUST DO IT!”

Said another way, “Be bold and take risks!”

Why? First, because I am often focused elsewhere. That’s just the nature of the role.

Second, while I may want to be kept in the loop, I would rather have you keep things moving and delight me in the recognition that I don’t need to give you permission to make a decision and move forward. Very few day-to-day decisions are so high-stake; they mostly require judgment, pattern recognition, and just being smart.

Sure, there are areas of risk — financial commitment, public perception, legal liability, employee impact, etc. — that require affirmation by a leader. But you know the difference. SO many other aspects of workstream evolution can and should be managed by an incredibly talented team, a team that knows best what the right outcome should be.

So, how do we embrace the JUST DO IT mentality?

I suspect, like so many things, what is required is a “conversation” at the start of a workstream / project / initiative to clarify freedom to operate before checking in with management. These conversations can empower the team and liberate leadership so that everyone is applying their talents to maximum satisfaction and results!