Which Kind of Leader Are You – Focused on the Doughnut, or the Hole?

Be honest.

Do you see the doughnut? Or the doughnut hole?

I see the hole. Definitely. Always have and probably always will. That’s who I am.

I happen to think that it makes me good at what I do, but others have disagreed. Whatever.

While I can see what’s there, I’m more intrigued with what’s not there.

Focused on the doughnut hole

In other words, I appreciate what’s working, but I’m motivated by what isn’t.

Now, my experience is that some of those who naturally focus on the doughnut often sometimes get a little impatient when someone like myself wants to talk about the hole. Here’s some of the objections they might state to this practice:

  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • Why so negative?”
  • Don’t go looking for trouble — you might find it.”
  • %^%&#%!?

If you’re happy munching on your doughnut, content to focus on the moment in the moment, I’m happy for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your sweet treat.Fresh Donuts

But as for me, I enjoy thinking about what’ll happen when the treat is gone.

Will you have a stomach ache? Will you need to see the dentist? Will you discover, after buying that yummy-looking doughnut, that you have no money left for lunch?

Those are the questions that interest me.

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Heading trouble off at the pass

Organizations, teams, or decision-making groups of any stripe need those who value the doughnut as well as those who enjoy sticking their fingers in the hole.

So stop being a naysayer about the supposed naysayers and just accept that sometimes it’s good to head trouble off at the pass.

Sometimes it’s good to plan how you’ll manage a possible conflict. And often it’s good to think ahead about potential roadblocks. And be thankful that there are those who are gifted at and delight in this type of thinking.

You say, “Nobody wants to work with someone who’s always poking holes in things.” And I say, “No, they don’t. But I’m not creating the hole. The hole is already there.”

It’s a fact. It’s an imperfect world, things don’t always go as planned, and people don’t always get along.

After all, if they did, YOU wouldn’t be making such a nuisance of yourself right now. Would you?

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at crs036@aim.com.


4 Comments on “Which Kind of Leader Are You – Focused on the Doughnut, or the Hole?

  1. A friend of mine was diagnosed with a laundry list of food allergies a couple of years ago, and it includes such ubiquitous nasties as wheat and corn. I just know that she would look at that doughnut and think, “I can’t have that delicious doughnut, and it’s completely unfair.” But then, instead of curling up in a corner and crying about it (and believe me, she used to), she’d head into the kitchen to whip up something equally delicious that won’t put her in the hospital. So, I suppose that puts her in something of a bridging position – linking the trouble-seeker with the status-quotidian by potentially including them in co-operative endeavor that removes the original point of contention completely. And that’s useful sometimes, too.
    Cheers! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

    1. I like it! Those who focus on the hole, those who focus on the donut, and those who enjoy mediating between the two. Perfect.

  2. I would have to say I am a mold between the two. Proactive and reactive depending on the situation. You need to have both people in your industry to be successful.

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