Programs rarely get off track in one big swoop. It is usually a slow decent into mediocrity and unhealth.
A poor leader doesn’t see it coming and then can’t correct when he/she finally does see it.
A good leader corrects and recalibrates when the program hits this fade.
A great leader anticipates and prevents the fade from even starting.
The imagery of a frog in boiling water represents this fade well. If you are going to boil a frog (hypothetically) you would not put the frog in a boiling pot of water, but rather put him in a cool pot of water and turn up the heat. The water slowly gets hot and then starts to boil. The frog doesn’t even notice what has happened.
This is what happens in programs. The fade is slow and imperceivable. The leader looks up after several months and realizes the program is ‘boiling’…and didn’t even see it coming.
Another way to frame this is the ‘tyranny of small decisions’. A leader makes small decisions over and over that lead to big consequences.
Putting off that
Turning a blind eye
Making a few poor decisions along the way
it slowly happens…in small decisions.
So as a leader, you must be ever aware and present. Your program will not naturally fade towards health and excellence. It has to be fought for, intentionally pursued, and made a priority.
One program’s slow fade started like this: A staff hire was made even though there were red flags. Then a decision was made on an athlete that went against the principles of the program/leader. In separate incidences, these two people who were part of this program now, did things that needed to be addressed quickly and severely. The leader ignored one situation and downplayed the other. This led to more cracks in the program’s foundation. The leader finally made a good decision on both people but couldn’t repair the cracks that became huge crevices in this program. The leader is no longer employed by this organization.