Past success and achievement can breed comfort.  It’s this comfort that causes leaders to “hunker down” and “wait” which usually moves their organization backwards at a time when energy and enthusiasm for the challenges, change and new innovative thinking are needed.

Over the years I have met many business executives who seemed to be comfortable with the status quo. These same leaders often agree it’s time for change but go back to what is familiar and wait for change to overtake them and their organization.  After years of frustration with this mentality I am left with only one conclusion.  This happens because they have achieved their personal goals and become a little too comfortable with their position.

When things get tough and leadership is needed to make changes, their comfort level motivates them to wait until things get better rather than look for alternatives to make things better.  I have never believed these same executives achieved their personal goals with this mentality.  Rather, they only stopped moving forward being innovative thinkers and advocates for change after they achieved their personal goals and reach their comfort level.

When bright, aggressive leaders who were able to lead their organization to great achievements, start using language like “hunker down” and “wait”, it is most often a sign of comfort or fear and it happens too regularly.

When the time comes that a leader would rather be comfortable than lead the movement for improvement in his or her organization, it’s time for the leader to step down and let the next leader take over.  This rarely happens in a timely or productive manner and usually occurs after much of the success achieved by the leader and organization has deteriorated or been destroyed.

As a leader, do you have a plan for stepping down?  How will you know when it’s time?   One major indicator is when the changes required to keep moving your organization forward aren’t energizing but a chore! When our attitudes as leaders are right then change is always energizing.   Most leaders have the heart of a great competitor.   Great competitors usually lose the will to prepare before they lose the desire to perform.   When this happens performance suffers. Too often in business, leaders get comfortable with their past achievements or the position they hold and it creates an unwillingness to embrace the changes needed for their organization to move forward to new accomplishments.

Leaders are very much like the performing artist that can’t let go of past accomplishment or the thrill of the performance and tries to perform until their performance deteriorates.

This deterioration doesn’t always mean it’s time to retire.  It is often just a signal that a change and new challenges are needed to re-energize a leader. It is always best to step down, move on and be energized by new challenges before you damage what you accomplished.

As a leader, it is best to re-energize yourself by leading the changes needed in your existing organization.  It is never best to wait for things to get better… Be careful that your leadership strategy isn’t to “hunker down”, “wait” for things to improve and hide behind the idea of going, “back to basics”.  This usually isn’t the thinking that made you a leader in the first place, led to your past success or the position you now hold.

It is time for leaders to get back to their first loves…challenge, change, innovation and improvement.  This is the best solution in good times, tough times and the best way to re-energize an organization.

By Mike Moore

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