Whoever we are, whatever job we have, we will eventually come to the point of a “leadership lid.” In his 2015 Leadership Summit talk, Craig Groeschel suggested some ways to lift the lid and increase your capacity as a leader. That must happen or the organization will take huge steps backward, perhaps even fail. It’s vital that we address our “fails” as soon as possible so we can help ourselves and the organizations we lead.
First, it would be most helpful to look at the signs that you have reached your leadership lid:
1. You can’t ever seem to get ahead. Your to-do list is growing and growing, and it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anything accomplished. The urgent is always pulling you away from the important. When you reflect on your day, you can’t point to significant things that got done.
2. You’re working harder and harder with less results. You’re not hitting goals, you’re missing deadlines, the company is not hitting milestones, or you’re simply not getting the job done. It’s not a lack of effort, you’re just not able to get done what is expected of you. Working long hours is necessary at times, but when the results aren’t there it’s a symptom of a larger issue. The only metric that matters is progress, the bottom line. If you’re constantly hitting roadblocks and not making progress, then it’s time to change yourself or the people around you. The easiest place to start is trying a few changes in your own leadership to see if it has a positive effect, and asking for objective feedback.
3. People are no longer interacting with you. People like to work and do business with people they like. If you find that fewer people are reaching out, or your team isn’t engaging with you beyond the bare minimum that’s needed to do their job, you might want to check and improve your leadership habits.
4. The team is regularly underperforming. There’s a reason a coach is fired when a football team does poorly during a season. Leaders in the business and non-profit world are too quick to point their finger at their teams. If you’re leading a team that is regularly underperforming, look inward before you take any other steps. When the leader reaches a leadership lid, it has a tremendous impact on the team.
5. The amount of criticism you’re receiving is growing. In the life of a leader, criticism is normal. But, if you’ve noticed an increase in the criticism, you have likely hit a lid. This is probably the team lid too. The customers and people you serve are a great indication of your leadership capacity—if they’re satisfied/happy, you’re doing okay . . . if they’re not, you need to evaluate your lid as a leader. If you must remind members of your team that you’re the boss or the leader, you have a major problem on your hands. At some point, the team stopped trusting and respecting you and your decisions, which means it’s time for a shift in your leadership style.
6. Your work/life balance is off. Your family suffers, your health suffers, and your state of mind suffers. When a leader is not in a good place, the first thing that is sacrificed is generally family, health, and home. This is probably the best indicator of a leader who has reached his/her lid. You never see your kids. Your spouse is feeling abandoned. You’ve developed health issues. All you can talk about is how much you need a vacation.
7. People are quitting. You have heard it said, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” If people are leaving your organization in medium or large numbers, you need to evaluate your leadership style and how you’re affecting others. Even when one person decides to leave, I make sure to really understand their decision and use it as a tool for development.
8. Your employees aren’t as dedicated, and morale has decreased. If you no longer have volunteers who are willing to work overtime or cover for someone who’s on vacation, and deadlines that never used to be an issue are now being missed, you need to think seriously about your lid. When the mood and culture of your office changes, you’re in trouble. Having employees who simply work for a paycheck is a sure sign of a leader and an organization in trouble.
So, what now? What if you read that list (compiled from reading and many personal experiences) and you see yourself? Do you hide it? Fake it till you make it? Wing it and hope for the best? None of above will give you the results you need and want.Do something that is positive and realistic and helpful:
Admit the truth. The first thing to do is something notto do: Don’t hide your situation. Once you know the truth, admit it. No one is perfect, and everyone reaches this point—but there’s a big difference between those who hide and those who don’t. Those who hide never grow; those who are unafraid to admit it are the ones who develop and grow.
Rethink and reassess. Think about why and how you got to this point. What’s working? What’s not working? Where do you need the most help? If you can rethink and reassess your leadership, you can grow from even the worst situation. As you develop as a leader, don’t limit your challenges but challenge your limits.
Stop doing so much. If you think you need to know everything and do everything, you are not delegating enough—you’re taking on too much responsibility, and most likely those you are leading wish you’d let them do their job. Learn when to step in and when to step out. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
Seek and accept help. Even the most brilliant and effective among us need help sometimes. We can all benefit from having another set of ears and eyes to help us through difficult and challenging situations. Who can coach you, who would be an effective mentor? Who can you include in your inner circle for help and support?
Stay human and humble. Lead with humility and grace. Let your team see you are human. Leaders who act like they know it all are never impressive, but humanity and humility bring great benefits for you and those you lead.
You really must do whatever it takes to become personally heathy first and foremost. Spend time in daily reflection. See a counselor. Consider hiring a trainer. Get a leadership coach and find some mentors in a variety of areas. Work on your junk. Do what you need to do to get where you need to be. Stop making excuses and saying you can’t change.
One of the keys to creating a better organization is to recruit around your weaknesses. Focusing on what you do best, but finding people who are far better than you in other areas can help you take the group further than you could alone.Being around people who are better than you—will make you better. You’ll lift your lid.