As the 2017 major league baseball season gets under way, batters will be working on the timing of their swing. For the benefit of those not fully versed in the nuances of baseball, major league batters today face pitchers who throw the baseball to them at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour, sometimes exceeding 100 mph! This “round object” is hurled at the batter from about 60 feet away and the batter has less than a second to decide what he is going to do – to swing his bat, or not.
If they swing and make contact with the ball, they ideally desire to “get a hit” by placing the ball onto a part of the playing field that is not directly where a member of the opposing team is located or can easily get to, while keeping the ball within a 90-degree range. There are many possible results when a bat makes contact with the baseball which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say, the timing of the swing is of utmost importance.
Timing is also related to all of us as leaders – our timing in making decisions has a great impact on the success of the decision. The decisions we make can be either right or wrong. The timing of those decisions can also be right or wrong. So, we have four possible outcomes when making decisions. Therefore, timing is everything! Good leaders recognize that when to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.
Consider the four possible outcomes:
- The Wrong Action At The Wrong Time Leads To Disaster – A leader who take the wrong action at the wrong time is sure to suffer negative consequences. There are many, many examples to illustrate this point. Do you remember Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in the late summer of 2005? Mayor Nagin’s poor leadership led to a series of wrong actions at the wrong time. He waited until it was too late to call for a mandatory evacuation of the city. He picked a poor location for the shelter of last resort, neglected to supply it properly and failed to provide adequate transportation for people to get there. One wrong action after another led to disaster.
- The Right Action At The Wrong Time Brings Resistance – Leaders make decisions that impact other people. If the people aren’t fully ready for whatever reason, they will likely resist the decision. With resistance comes potential rebellion, possibly including acts of sabotage to impact the influence level of the leader. The people must be developed to support the impact of the decision. If not, the timing is wrong, even though it may be the right action.
- The Wrong Action At The Right Time Is A Mistake – Peter Drucker described the difference between leadership and management as follows, “Leaders focus on doing the right things and managers focus on doing things right.” He must have known about this principle which says even if the timing is right yet the action is wrong, negative consequences will occur. In this case, the leader was not focused on doing the right things. This kind of leader can be described as a “ready, fire, aim” kind of leader. When they don’t carefully take aim, their shot will rarely hit the intended target and the shot will be wasted.
- The Right Action At The Right Time Results In Success – When the right action and the right timing come together, incredible things happen. An organization achieves its goals, reaps outstanding rewards and gains momentum. At times, people refer to the leader as highly insightful and perhaps brilliant. While these may be somewhat accurate, it all has to do with the right action at the right time.
In your approach to leadership, does timing play an important part in your strategy? Do you think about the appropriateness of the timing as much as you do the “rightness” of the action? Consider taking some time to reflect on some of the major actions you have initiated over the past 6 -12 months. How much attention did you give to timing? What can you learn from your reflection?
The baseball batter who takes the right action at the right time has much better chances of getting the desired result – a hit – so he can get on base and have an opportunity to score a run.
Now, go out and play ball!
PS – Much of the content of this message comes from The Law of Timing from the bestselling The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by my mentor John Maxwell.