Great leaders are constantly looking for opportunities, reframing challenges, and making good things happen. I dare not call this only a positive attitude as it seems to trivialize this leadership approach. Although good attitude is a part of this approach it also encompasses proactive posture, vision, problem-solving, and a variety of other core competencies for leaders. As I always say, great leaders are solutions providers.
Lately, I have noticed a new trend among a good number of managers and this trend is not good. What is interesting about this is that there is a veiled rational behind it. The trend is managers saying when dealing with a business challenge that is starting to become too overwhelming or to challenging to say, “It is what it is.”
Are you serious? Is this your analysis and subsequent response to the situation?
Notwithstanding that when you analyze the situation you have to assess the realities and what aspects you can actually have an impact. That is to say that you know and work in what Stephen R. Covey called your ‘Circle of Influence’ as opposed to worrying about something that you have no control over (Circle of Concern.) And this is an integral part of the critical thinking process. Focus on what you can change and let go of the things that you cannot change. But I assure you there is always something that can be done.
However, the “It is what it is” approach often feels defeatist and comes more out of a place of “I am sure there is a solution but either I have not yet figured it out yet, the solution is too difficult or I am just too tired to really care.” Yes, analyze the circumstance and be honest and accurate about it. But great leaders bring energy and intelligence to every challenge that comes their way. When a leaders goes the “It is what it is approach” it comes off weak to the boss and peers and demotivating to the direct reports in the short and long terms.
So, avoid this phrase at all costs. It is weak, disempowered and wreaks of M-TV pop culture. Show up big and make a difference everyday!