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5 Things a Leader Can Do When Facing a Delay

Published June 26, 2016

Expect Delays. I saw this sign on my walk last night. This hit me on a number of levels as I think back over just 2016 and the number of delays in moving important projects forward this year that I have had to accept, and how frustrating it has been, but also realizing those delays are also beyond my control. So I can either choose to be frustrated about what’s happening or I can choose to figure out how to use the delay to my advantage and be even more ready when it’s time to take action.
Here are 5 things that a leader can do when faced with a delay in a project, timing, or resources:

  1. Look at the extra time you have been given as a gift. Perhaps the delay you’re experiencing is exactly what you need to go back and reassess your action plan and make adjustments. Maybe you missed something and now have the opportunity to course correct before you launch to make your project even more successful.
  2. Get the team together. When faced with an uncontrollable delay, use that time to rally the troops and sit down and review the launch plan. Have everyone take a fresh look at their part of the plan and talk it through. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to help other young leaders understand that things don’t always go according to plan. Modeling how to approach a delay thoughtfully is a huge learning for them that they will carry with them through the rest of the their careers. 
  3. Once you’ve shored everything up and are just waiting to deploy, use the time to revisit other projects and initiatives that need attention and move those forward. Continuing to make progress in other areas of the business keeps everyone’s confidence high and keeps them sharp, but as a leader you need to set that example.
  4. Depending on the type of project you’re working on, use the time to think about the next iteration and apply the learnings you have gained to thoughts around the next phase. Some of the best ideas for the future come from the adversity we experience in the present moment.
  5. Own it. Leaders have the responsibility to show their team how to lead through difficult times. Even though the delay might not be your fault, own it, and do everything you can to put the resources behind getting the project back on track.

As I write this I am experiencing a major construction delay on a new project and using these words to challenge myself as a leader. This has been a great experience because it has challenged my entire team on how we can keep moving forward even in the face of adversity, and we are! We’ve done a number of exciting things to keep everyone engaged and using the time we have to be even more prepared as we lean into this new opening.
Expect delays, because they’re coming. You’ve either just experienced one, are experiencing one, or are about to. But the beauty is you get to choose your attitude in how you deal with it, and you have the chance to influence other leaders through the example you set! Let’s do it!