May 20, 2021

Building Your Peek-a-Boo Business

Sometimes we’re not that different at all.

We talk about ‘Diversity’ and all that.
Yet it’s astonishing how similar our children’s learning patterns can be.

I remember – as a naïve teenager – sitting in a West End restaurant with a group of girls from Sweden.
(Obviously, Christmas had come in July!)

It started raining.
And one of them started singing “Incy Wincy Spider”… including the hand movements.
Oh, come on! Please don’t admit that you don’t know Incy-Wincy Spider!)

From Tooting, London.
To Trelleborg, Sweden.

It would seem that every parent has sung that to their child!

Since then, I’ve also discovered that, all over the globe, babies and toddlers love playing Peek-a-Boo.

What’s more, it seems clear to us what they’re thinking when they hide their little faces.
It seems they think that “If I can’t see you… then you probably can’t see me!”

Generation after generation.
Nationality after nationality.

And long after we’ve (supposedly) grown up.

We think, “If I Can’t See It… Then It Probably Won’t See Me!”

“If I Can’t See It Coming… It Probably Won’t Hit Me!”

Whatever your role, in business or in life…
… one of our leadership responsibilities is to keep asking…
“What’s about to change?
What’s looming at us at the edge of the horizon?”

Leaders who ask that of their team, on a regular basis, have a chance of preparing for the reality. The reality that tomorrow will definitely, most assuredly, not be like today.

Smart leaders (or those who wish to lead) don’t try to do this alone.
Smart leaders gather their people, their colleagues, around them.

Smart leaders don’t rule by dishing out streams of opinions and views.
Smart leaders ask their team-with-serious-brains for their opinions and views.

And they listen.
They listen as if their very life depended upon it.
(Because – all too frequently – the heartbeat of what they’ve created very much depends upon it.)

When I hear a leader say “But I really don’t see how…”
I share with them this thought:
“No. You don’t see.
But that doesn’t stop others from seeing very clearly what’s going on; what’s a-coming.”

I had developed a view, a strategy, over the months of Lockdown.
I’d literally spent scores and scores of hours substantiating and articulating that view in writing.
Nay, months.

Then I asked my team for their views… of my views.

And – at the end of one conversation – I realised how much my thoughts had missed the mark.

No wonder I struggled to get the team all ‘on the same page’!
The page didn’t make much sense!

What was written on it wouldn’t deal well with the future we yearned for.

I couldn’t see clearly what might happen.
They could.

The only thing that then stood in the way was my pride.
And the temptation to play Peek-a-Boo.

Two responsibilities help define how effective we are in leadership:
1) To look out for what’s coming.
2) To draw from our colleagues – the people who choose to work with us – what they think… of what you think.

Peek-a-Boo is, admittedly, an alternative strategy.