What’s the one thing that you have to do in order to keep your team moving in the direction you want them to go?

Watch any mother duck and you’ll notice that when she’s sitting down, her little ducklings can be found scattered within a safe distance, doing as they please.  But once mother duck stands up, gives a quack, and starts to walk, her little ducklings line up behind her.

Imagine saying to a group of people “follow me!” and promptly sitting down to have a think while they stand around waiting for you to show them the way.  Leadership without clear forward movement is like a well-thought out basketball game where no one ever picks up the ball.

Here are three simple steps to get you from overthinking – and losing the attention of your team in the process – to leading the way with an action focus.

Know your outcome – but limit your thinking time

There is a certain amount of thinking that needs to be done prior to action being taken.  But it might be much less thinking than you think.  Especially when you consider that the longer you take thinking, the more scattered your ducklings are getting.

When I’m not sure what the next action is, I often sit out in the sun with a cup of tea and contemplate what it is I’m trying to accomplish.  Knowing where I’m headed helps me get clear on what actions I need to take to get there.  But if I did that all day, what would be the point.  Once my tea is done, I usually know enough to pick a next step and commit to it.

Make thinking a tool

Create a ritual around thinking for immediate problems, whether it’s a cup of tea or a walk around the block.  Plus, create a block of time every week to contemplate where you want the team to be.  It might be half an hour, it might be an hour.  It just can’t be all the time.

It’s likely you’re in a leadership role because you can think, so you probably do a lot of that.  But if you look at it logically, thinking isn’t an activity that has benefit in and of itself.  Give yourself the time to think, yes, but only as a tool to discover what the next action is so that you can stand up and take a step forward.

Learn more by doing

It’s true, the action you decided to take might not be the right one.  But there is no way you will know that until you take that action.

You can’t learn to ride a bike by thinking about how to ride a bike.  You’ve got to get on the thing and pedal.  Treat your actions the same way.  Commit to them while simultaneously being open to the learnings that come when you’re doing the do.

From today, stop waiting for your ducks to line up and start moving forward.  Lead the way.