• Randy Swaim

Leadership : “If you were a computer…….?”


Considering your current challenge that is holding you back, “If you were a computer…….?”


As a leader must lead the team through challenging situations that arise in a rapidly changing environment, I want to simply offer a simple question that comes from Dr. Larry Gilliam, a good friend and colleague who is the head of Dayspring Counselling and Dayspring Institute for Training and Development for whom I am certified Coach Supervisor.

Considering your current challenge that is holding you back, “If you were a computer…….?”.

First, let me offer the question and then expand a little bit to illuminate the picture.


The question is simply this:


“As you look at this challenge… if you were a computer, would this problem be


a Hardware problem,


a Software problem


…… or a Data Entry problem?”


Allow me to illustrate and make a couple of comments about each one.



Hardware Problem


As you consider your current challenge, your lack of clarity could be oriented to Neuroscience aspects. Your brain has neurons arranged and mapped out a certain way and it drives how the electrical signals travel. The reader would be surprised at the number of times I have had a pilot who sees what he or she expects to see not what is truly there. Our brain is neuroplastic and will rewire itself but the process of creating the new neuro-pathways takes around 30-45 days. Is your Hardware problem that your brain has not rewired itself to see factors and truth?


As your brain goes through this rewiring process the leader will not only need to realize that the frontal lobe of the brain (the processor) will have to be very involved to see the truth. Leaders will also need to be able to coach their teams to do the same.



Software problem


There are times when someone has a picture of what something should be and if it is not just like that, they become negative and start getting in the way of the team’s success. They tend to not try to find a way but rather they talk negatively about the team and where they are. They miss the point that often the journey is a process. However, they struggle with this truth.


In a recent blog, I pointed out how the Dopamine Fix (the overwhelming desire to be patted on the back and feel rewarded) is often controlling to some team members. The reader may perhaps remember from my previous blog that this can keep them trapped at the “Use Me” level and prevent their development and that of the team as well. This occurs when someone is “in a holding pattern” relative to their development. Sometimes the person just sits and complains if they don’t get all the credit.


This can be indicative of a Software Problem.



Data Entry Problem


The problem can be evident when several years ago someone told us something perhaps about strategy and here later the leader or the team applies that without fail and without thought. I offer one simple example.


A gentleman that I respect wrote a book about leadership and one of the central foundations of his book is that “The proof of likely future effective leadership…..is past effective leadership”. In general, I agree with his conclusion but there is 1 key & critical difference where I disagree.


What I say is that “….his conclusion is right……..IF NOTHING EVER CHANGES!” The problem is that the environment is changing due to multiple factors. There are times when someone told you a truth that may have been a truth at that point of time, but factors have changed and the strategy and action steps for success must adapt. That individual’s real leadership may have been effective at that moment and in that specific situation.


Are the factors on which you are basing your decisions and strategy really going to get you success in this current situation and in this current environment? Part of true situational awareness is understanding when it is different and how do I need to lead differently. What part of the data entry I had back then may still be true and what part needs to be adapted to the situation.


These 3 problems are not completely independent and may crossover some. Sometimes both Hardware and Software problems could involve awareness of neuroscience aspects. Sometimes the Software problem could be driven by that and the initial Data Entry the leader had years ago.


As you look within your team, gain clarity in both yourself and in your team as to how these 3 may be active and what you and your team may need to be able to do about it.


Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC

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