Why are some leaders more effective than others in developing their team’s skills and generating high-level performance? It’s the difference between being a windshield and a rear-view mirror, says Paul LaRue, a consultant in the hospitality and service industries, and the creator of the UPwards Leader blog.
Rear-view managers tend to be reactionary, waiting for errors or poor performance to occur before taking steps to correct it. Windshield leadership is the opposite. “A windshield leader is always looking ahead and doing whatever it takes to avoid the hazards and potholes up ahead, even if they cannot see any yet,” LaRue states.
The two styles of management often show up in all aspects of a workplace’s culture. Where rear-view management uses patchwork training to cover the holes found along the way, windshield leaders build reminders of what the goal and vision are continually, and train incessantly to ensure their people are on top of their game and perform at a high level at all times.
Windshield leaders “are fully connected with their people and work with them to succeed as a team through promoting values, vision and execution of their skills,” LaRue says. “When a mistake is made, it is addressed with a focus on preventing it in the future. Windshield leadership takes any corrective action and frames it in the overall growth and learning trajectory of the individual and organization: ‘We learn from our mistakes so we can succeed better,’ rather than ‘You messed up, here are the consequences.’”
There is a reason why cars have a large windshield and a small rear-view mirror, he adds. Drivers need to check behind them occasionally, but the real focus should be on the road ahead. “Great leaders know the wisdom of focusing on the present and future and spending very little time in the recent past.”