Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Do You Have Leadership GAS?

Apr 24, 2019

Leadership Gear Acquisition Syndrome

It's time I shared this problem. Many of you know that I am passionate about my photography hobby. I love creating photographs. However, as part of this hobby, I've acquired GAS. Okay, not the GAS you might be thinking of. This GAS is Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Let me be honest, I'm bloated with gear.

I'm always reading about ways to use tools to get a better edge in my photography — faster focus, better low-light performance, sharper images, etc. As I read about the tools, I often buy them, too, and attempt to integrate them in to my gear. I tell myself great stories about how "this is the one" and how now I will be the photographer I want to be. And I do this before I realize the full potential of the gear I have.

When my thoughts turn back to reality (usually about the time my credit card bill arrives), I suddenly realize that the edge I was looking for could have been achieved by improving my skills with the gear I have rather than adding to my toolbox. That is, by simply improving my skills through practice and more effective implementation, I can accomplish the “better edge” skills I listed above. That's the advice I give new photographers who ask how to get better — improve your skills on composition and technique with the gear you have. In short, discover what kind of photographer you are first, get good with that, then gear up to support the skills you have and are developing rather than the skills you want. 

In my consulting life, I see many leaders who are looking for the next gear to give them a leadership edge. This can be a new book, a new method, a new evaluation tool, etc. We often find the tool before we know the problem it can solve. Then, we get excited about the tool and immediately roll it out to our teams. And what do our teams say? I bet it's, "Huh, another tool. Flavor of the day. Let's play along, and it will go away as soon as he/she finds the next tool." And the result is easy to predict — nothing. Even worse, we wind up with multitudes of unused gear. 

Understand, I'm a huge fan of learning and adopting change. The point is, we can't adopt every change. What if instead we invest our time in learning about why we are not achieving our outcomes? We can create deep understanding of the roadblocks and why they occur, engage our people about ideas to overcome, evaluate how our current gear can help us and invest in new gear only when we see a gap.

Not only will we get better outcomes, we can avoid our own leadership GAS and maybe feel a little less bloated.

More of Steve Lipton’s blogs are available online.

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