Avoiding Whack a Mole Leadership (229:365)

source: urbananomie.com

source: urbananomie.com

Ever play Whack a Mole? Invented in 1976, Whack a Mole is a machine with 5 to 7 holes, and played with a rubber mallet. Once the game begins, moles pop up out of the holes and it is your job to whack them as quickly as they appear. As you progress the moles pop up faster and faster. Since its original adoption, the game has been changed and modified over the years…. But the concept has always been the same: Whack the mole! 


As leaders, you can sometimes feel like you are literally playing Whack a Mole. Problems arise, you solve them, and then another pops up, and another and another. It is easy to get stuck in this mindset. Yet, it is not effective. How do you avoid playing Whack a Mole leadership?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. If you carry a mallet, you will see everything as a mole…. Perhaps these “moles” that pop up are opportunities, not problems.
  2. When someone gives you a mole (problem), as Todd Whittaker would say, “Don’t make the mole your problem!” Todd wrote about this concept extensively in Shifting the Monkey, and What Great Principals Do Differently.
  3. Not all moles are your problem! It is extremely important to empower staff to make decisions and solve problems.


The next time you are playing Whack a Mole (not at the boardwalk or arcade, or iPad) be sure to remain process-centered, and think twice before whacking….

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