Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

DATIS Guest

This DATIS Blog Article, “Are You Playing Offense or Defense?”, was originally posted by Kevin EikenberryLeadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry, on January 2nd, 2017 and was reposted with permission.

I recently read this question somewhere, and it stuck with me. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it is a valid question for us to ask as individuals and as leaders.

Are you playing offense or defense?

Like in sports, where you can have a strength in offense or defense and be successful, but can’t be successful with a complete lack of either one; this question isn’t an “either/or black or white” question as much as it is a “relative balance” question.

It is a question that can be asked strategically (what will our focus be for the year?) or tactically (how will handle this situation?). In either case, it is a question worth considering, because if you don’t consider it and challenge yourself with it, you will in the short- or long-term operate from your habits – which might not give you the results you most desire.

Are you playing offense or defense?

What do I mean when I suggest this question to you?

Your own definitions for the two words matter, and so my urging you to ask yourself might really be all that is needed (and would make for a short article). But if you want to hear the definitions and descriptions I have been using as I have considered the question, here is a sampling.

OFFENSE MEANS: DEFENSE MEANS:
Being proactive Being reactive
Improving processes Solving problems
Playing to win Playing it safe
Maximizing return Minimizing risk
Trying something new Maintaining what you have
Creating new customers Focusing on the competition

As you can see, what appears to be a black and white question is far from it. As just one example: there is a time to improve processes, and a time to solve problems – and there is value in knowing which will be your overall focus too.

The question has helped clarify my thinking for our team in the coming year and I hope it will do the same for you. It has also come in handy in regards to some specific situations and decisions since I have been considering the question.

So, I ask you to consider this question for yourself from three perspectives.

Which is my subconscious habit, to play offense or defense?

Which will serve me best, most often in reaching my goals for year, playing offense or defense?

Which will serve me best for the situation or decision I face right now, playing offense or defense?

Whatever your answers, make sure you don’t ignore what you didn’t choose. If you choose to focus on offense, there will be a time when defense is needed and vice versa. Asking the question will however make you more intentional and likely more successful in whatever context you use it.

As always, your thoughts, ideas, and even your answers are welcome.

 

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