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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Autopilot Leadership Leads to Disaster

The day dawned cool and clear along the California coast when I went for my early morning run on the beach.  In the distance, a large shape became visible on the sand looking like a white box with long antennas pointed to the sky. As I approached, my white box turned into a 43-foot yacht with outriggers. Yellow caution tape stretched from rock outcroppings to its bow and stern and two men from Vessel Assist were digging around its beached hull. “Must have set it on autopilot and fell asleep,” answered the digger to my question. “Autopilot  doesn’t know about the headlands and the surge that will pull a boat to shore if you’re not watching.” What a perfect Labor Day weekend lesson: autopilot! Pick up a newspaper and you have to wonder about leaders in industries that are literally grounded. The wind didn’t just suddenly shift. Nope--asleep at the wheel. Business as usual with few course corrections.  You can name the names of companies and entire industries. Made me wonder how often we also lead our lives from autopilot? Surely the investors with Bernie Madoff put their financial ships in his hands, never once asking about how this single individual could steer a course with amazing returns while the rest of the world floundered Sometimes, it takes the getting grounded (or close to it), to jar us awake from autopilot.  Personally, dealing with my Mother’s broken hip at age 93 and handling all the legal paperwork has awakened me to more carefully scrutinize what papers, procedures and people I have lined up to help me and my husband.  From a professional standpoint, I am willing to bet I am not the only  consultant who auto-piloted her way in marketing, betting that articles and videos would continue to bring in new clients.  Not so.  Delivery mechanisms are changing and so must I. As our children start back to school, perhaps we all might think of September as OUR new year.  Get out of autopilot. What course might we steer in this new world?  I am looking at the map I am making of my life. Course correction is definitely in order. Where are you headed?

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