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John Adair's 100 Greatest Ideas for Smart Decision Making by John Adair

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Idea 65: Face the cannons

The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.

Welsh proverb

‘Face the cannons,’ Napoleon used to say to his soldiers. ‘If the enemy is shooting at you, march towards them. If you turn and run from them, you’ll get shot in the back.’

Not bad advice for any leader who is faced with a new and unpleasant problem, especially if it concerns people. Don’t run away from it. Don’t put your head in the sand. Don’t delegate it – deal with it. If you lack the moral courage to do that, you shouldn’t be in a leadership role. Don’t dodge problems but confront them.

As a chief executive once told me:

Early in my career my initial reaction was to hesitate when faced with an uncomfortable situation. But over time I realized if ...

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