How Do You Know When to Go With the Flow?

Option 1 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to go with the flow and let things play out.

Option 2 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to choose a desired outcome and lead others toward that outcome.

How do you decide?

In my experience, business owners have the tendency to choose Option 2. Owners get to decide the outcome they want and when passionate about that outcome, they choose to lead others toward it.

Similarly, professional CEOs, especially those leading PE owned companies, generally choose Option 2. They have a clear mission from the PE board, have incentives that are aligned with the board, and therefore choose to lead others toward their desired outcome, leaving as little to chance as possible.

On the other hand, my experience with executives is, it varies. And, since executives have both their careers to think about and their business to think about, they have two situations for which this choice must be made.

Some executives are willing, and actually prefer, to go with the flow, letting their owners or their boards, or their CEO decide the direction. This works best when the decision makers are in fact choosing Option 2, i.e. they are clear about the desired outcome.

  • But, what happens when the decision maker and those charged with implementing the decision are simply going with the flow? Is there even a direction, or simply a flow?
  • And, what happens when going with the flow provides financial rewards, but not psychic rewards. What then?

Everyone needs a purpose, a “why”. Some of us are comfortable deriving that purpose from others. Some of us need to set our own course.

The challenge for each of us is becoming clear which choice works for us and then putting ourselves into situations where we can be aligned with our choice.

Why Vistage Works

Elisa K. Spain