It may seem difficult to believe, but many businesses are having unprecedented success even in these trying and uncertain times. The challenges of 2020 required leaders at every level to rise to the occasion and guide their teams to discover new and creative ways to do business. It was the fulfillment of John Maxwell’s Law of Navigation, which states, “Anyone can steer the ship, But it takes a leader to chart the course.” When seas are calm, anyone can steer the ship. When seas are stormy, it takes a leader to chart the course.
However, I’ve noticed recently in coaching conversations that even when seas are calm, and business is booming, it also takes a leader to chart the course. Why would that be? Take this short exchange with a business leader on a recent coaching call: “How are things? Great! How’s business? Better than ever? How’s the team? Complacent!” Uh-oh!
It’s human nature to back off or slow down when things are going well. When things are difficult, we lean in, become proactive, and focus intently on doing the small daily disciplines required to navigate the trying times. I set a goal last year to lose a certain amount of weight, and I met my goal. Guess what happened next? I began to put the weight back on slowly. Why? Because I became complacent and stopped doing the things that I did to reach that goal.
It’s easy when times are good, and success is within reach to back off on the very things that got us there. That’s human nature and something you as a leader need to fight against. Maintaining your daily disciplines, EVEN WHEN things are going well, is key to sustained, long-term success.
5 Tips to Lead When Times are Good
- Vision, Vision, Vision
Great leaders never stop sharing the vision of where we are going. If you or the people on your team think they have arrived at the final destination, they will be tempted to back off or slow down. You have never arrived. As a change agent, you know that the vision continues. When you continue to communicate the vision and show the way forward, the temptation to back off will be reduced.
- Daily Disciplines
Complacency can creep in when the team is looking at the big picture without concern for the daily habits that lead to the big picture. If you make the daily activities the focus, the big picture will take care of itself. What are the small things to be done daily that lead to where you want to go?
- Track what matters
Tracking changes everything! But you must track the right things. Complacency creeps in when we either don’t track progress, or we track only the end result. If you track the daily and weekly activities that lead to where we want to go, you will do two things: One, allow the team to see progress being made. And two, keep the focus on the journey and not the destination.
The more the team collaborates and works together toward the vision, the more likely they are to keep moving forward. When teams don’t collaborate but instead work in silos alone, it becomes easier to tell myself I am done.
Celebrate milestones and effort. If you wait to celebrate only the big win, you signal that the effort is over and invite complacency to appear. Also, every time you celebrate a milestone on the larger journey, you have a new opportunity to restate the vision and re-establish energy toward the larger goal.
Individual or team complacency is a leadership issue. Whether the seas are rough or the seas are calm, be the leader you need to be to avoid team complacency.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.