08/04/2014 04:19 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Changing Course Midstream? Not in Rapids!


A colleague of mine was telling me about his boss, the CEO, who was in the midst of leading a major acquisition. Several key members of his team have been disappointed in the how the CEOs is handling certain priorities during this time:

"He isn't focusing on getting feedback from us, in engaging with us."

"He isn't following through."

"He's canceling meetings."

"His priorities aren't aligned with ours"

Give the guy a break. He is going through the biggest thing he's ever done.

It's safe to say he hasn't navigated such waters before. In fact, he's river rafting the biggest rapids he's ever seen.

There is a time for talking culture, for talking about the plan, for checking in and assuring we are all rowing the same way. That time is not when we are barreling down stage four rapids.

When your CEO is in the midst of navigating the rapids, the best we can do for them is figure out how we can We don't talk about strategies for getting through the rapids, we don't assess paddling technique, we don't discuss how the team is feeling. You are committed; help your CEO keep the raft from running into rocks, keep the water out, get through the rapids.

Not everything is going to go perfectly, but in the midst of the ride, be sensitive to what can and what needs to be addressed now; be attuned to the situation at hand.

2014-07-31-raftingcalm.jpg When in the rapids, use your influence and skills to support the CEO and the team through the ride. Push here, prod there -- keep the raft away from the rocks and achieve the goal.

Save those other (important) discussions for when we have safely made it through the chute, made it over the waterfall, and are floating lazily in the calm aftermath. That's when you regroup, assess the ride and make adjustments.