As a performance coach I occasionally run into situations where the success of business is covering up for a poor performing leader. The conversation sounds a bit like this:
Me: How is the business doing?
Them: Never better! Hitting all our goals!
Me: How is your team?
Them: There are some challenges.
Me: Tell me more…
Them: 1) My top performer resigned
2) Two department heads are fighting
3) My leadership team isn’t growing
4) Our engagement survey showed very low scores
Me: What do you think is driving this?
Them: It’s just the downside of being so busy being successful.
“Stop wishing things were easier, wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn
It’s easy to be lured in to thinking things are great when business is going well. When business is not going well, we analyze and evaluate and make changes. When things are going well it is tempting to coast. And as it’s been said, if you are coasting you are going downhill.
Leaders are change agents. If you are coasting do to good results then you are not being the change agent the organization needs you to be in order for the organization to go to the next level…and there is always a next level!
Leading Yourself Well
My approach to the coaching situation above is to ask the leader about his or her daily habits of leading themselves:
- What are you reading?
- How is your morning routine?
- What are your priorities?
- What are your daily habits pertaining to work?
What I often find in my own life and in the lives of the professionals I coach is that we can often allow a positive business climate and success to make us think we are better than we are. We can easily assume that we are doing everything we need to be doing to grow and improve our own performance and productivity. To fight against this invasion of the ego, here is what I recommend:
1. Establish a morning routine – this is for working on yourself. I do three things. Read, write, and exercise. You might do something different. The magic is that I do it every day, and at the exact same time. This allows me time to think and apply what I am learning to my leadership efforts during the remainder of the day.
2. Ensure I have set a clear goal or outcome for myself and the team.
3. Ensure I am mindful of the objectives I have set for myself and the team for the current quarter that will lead to that goal or outcome.
4. Ensure I am doing the most important things each week that lead to those objectives.
5. Ensure I have clear priorities for each day of the things I, and the team, should be working on.
6. Ensure I am holding myself and my team accountable for those most important things.
It’s actually a simple process, you just need to do it! It is so tempting to allow solid business results to lure you into thinking you have arrived, and that you can just coast.