Saturday, November 20, 2010

3rd and 10 Decisions and How the Leader Approaches Them

Being a former athlete I like to use "sportisms" to make critical leadership points. I found that my athletic days taught me a lot about people, life and leadership. Everyone has situations in their lives where they are forced to make tough choices and decisions that can shape their lives going forward. I call these 3rd and 10 decisions. I chose that moniker because in football 3rd and 10 presents a difficult solution. Do you run or pass? Do you try to outsmart the defense or do you do what you do best? As a leader I attack 3rd and 10 problems with what I do best and sometimes that is not always the best solution to the problem.

In my attempt to grow as a leader I realize that I have challenges when it comes to certain things. With that said I try to recognize critical gaps in my leadership capacity so that I don't resort to my shortcomings on 3rd and 10 decisions. I have become better at recognizing these gaps as I have gotten older, but I made some crucial mistakes as a young leader that could have derailed my career. As a young salesman I did not view relationships with those that I worked for as critical to my development so I made multiple 3rd and 10 decisions that cost me promotions and other recognition that I worked hard for. Now I know where I went wrong and what the signs were to cause those bad decisions.What are some of your shortcomings that you might resort to during 3rd and 10 decisions? Do you have a plan that will help you develop to make better choices when those tough decisions are required?

Leadership capacity assessment is not as difficult as people make it seem. There is an easy way to assess your potential as a leader. Ask yourself three key questions.

  1. Do I view myself as a leader and if so what leadership competencies do I possess?
  2. Do others see me as a leader and if so what strengths do they observe?
  3. How can I mesh my self assessment and that of others to increase capacity?
When you ask these questions be honest with yourself and ask others to be as candid as possible. The response(s) that you get will be your guide to handling tough decisions and help increase your capacity.


  1. John, you mention not understanding the critical role your relationships with your superiors plays in your upward mobility. You couldn't be more accurate. Not understanding the point of "managing your manager" and other superiors can cost you several years of development in your career. Additionally, young salespeople have a tendency to jump to the next greatest compensation plan or hot industry, which can further delay your career and leadership development. Future leaders must be able to manage their career as opposed to trying to manage their finances buy jumping around to the next best thing.

  2. John thank you for sharing this post with me. I am now following your blog. Be sure to check out mine if you haven't already:

    Have a wonderful evening and thank you again!