Have your leaders become too comfortable with the comforts of their success? Are the egos of your leaders blinding them to their deficiencies and opportunities? Have your leaders become so satisfied with preferred systems or processes that they no longer refine them or double-check for vulnerabilities? When this happens, it’s most likely that your leaders are now leading from a mindset of complacency.
A Complacency Mindset
A complacent mindset is like a termite slowly eating away at your leadership structure until the integrity of your foundation is compromised. When leaders are complacent, excellence takes a backseat, they no longer go the extra mile, and risk-taking becomes too risky. A complacent mindset causes leaders to become disengaged and minimizes the value of their passion, presence, and purpose. Once how they should show up and why becomes an afterthought, leaders will trade their mindfulness and resiliency for ignorance, timidity, and fragility. The priorities of their decisions and actions then become re-optimized towards resting in the safety of plans executed according to their comfort, assumptions, or predictability.
As a senior executive, sometimes you will encounter leaders who appear to remain stuck in some aspect of their roles because of complacency. Top performers as well as those struggling to achieve success are not exempt and are just as vulnerable. Some top-performing leaders can’t see clearly anymore because they believe they already know it all. Whereas, some leaders struggling to achieve success can’t see it yet because they believe they’ll never know enough or be enough. Occasionally, this state of immobility stems from multiple circumstances coinciding in the workplace. Otherwise, singular events revolving around life’s ongoing stress and frustrations contribute to complacency in their leadership.
Maybe it’s working the past few years in a role that now seems unfulfilling and monotonous, yet still pays the bills. Performing the same duties in the same manner for so long can easily cause leaders to lose sight of why they started the journey in the first place. Spending countless hours doing something they no longer see any lasting value or gratification in has the potential to induce feelings of hopelessness.
Many leaders do an excellent job of caring for others and a terrible job of caring for themselves. Juggling the demands of leading in high-stakes environments with being a present leader at home can be exhausting. Pushing yourself to have the correct answers, availability, and solutions in abundance is depleting, frustrating, and discouraging. Although challenging oneself has significant benefits, lack of the proper pace, prioritization, and self-care can have a devastating toll. Before some leaders realize it, they won’t have enough time, energy, effort, or resources to devote to themselves because they gave it all away.
Having sufficient funds to pay the bills but insufficient funds to invest in their purpose adds to this dilemma. Not having money to fuel personal or professional visions can play a significant factor in keeping leaders stuck. Eventually, this results in leaders abandoning their big dreams altogether to settle for much less.
A Disruptive Execution Mindset
Developing a mindset of disruptive execution involves having the courage to confront our inner conflict. The thoughts, actions, principles, practices, and processes governing our leadership may not align with who we are. This misalignment can lead us to delegate to the point of stifling our innovative ability. Failure to be intentional about aligning our leadership and organizational needs will lead to reduced accountability, adaptability, and client loyalty. Here are some key aspects of this mindset:
- Challenging your internal status quo in favor of disrupting how you relate, empower, and persist
- Anticipating things you usually do that don’t serve you and pivoting toward more fulfilling and motivating habits
- Engaging in tough conversations with yourself and your leadership team to shift from counterproductive activities to becoming standard-bearers
- Developing and deploying systems and strategies to avoid staying on autopilot or cruise control from overconfidence or little confidence
- Committing to being proactive and responsive versus inactive and reactive
Sharpening one’s awareness that complacency is counterproductive to leadership authenticity is critical. Leaders can reach a breaking point from sacrificing too much of themselves and exhibit a lack of energy, confidence, focus, and direction. It is essential within the relationships executives build with their leaders to explore the effects that being complacent versus engaging in disruptive execution has on achieving desired results.
Regardless of the circumstances, complacency is an enemy that impacts our personal and professional bottom lines negatively. Let’s explore considerations senior executives can use to coach leaders from complacency to disruptive execution.
Leadership Complacency is the Enemy of Productivity
Working with a leader to create a vivid picture of how another leader’s complacent life may look provides an excellent opportunity for the leader to view things from the rooftop. As an observer of events, leaders can track how a period of an approach to life laden with complacency can lead to negative consequences. Leaders can also observe common defense mechanisms operative from a bystander’s perspective. The executive and leader can then draw parallels to the leader’s own experiences and those within the observation exercise. Using the following penetrating questions can be beneficial in collaborating with leaders and coaching to identify areas of complacency:
- It appears something is holding you back. What things do you believe are hindering you from achieving your goals and objectives?
- Recall a time in life when you overcame complacency. What was your method or strategy for successfully moving forward? Do you believe this same strategy can apply to your current challenges?
- If issues such as time, energy, and stress were non-factors, how would you use your current potential to execute disruptively now? What about in the distant future?
Complacency can keep anyone from moving forward in life and leadership for a significant period. Individual complacency can become contagious and spread rapidly to loved ones and others that depend on us. Understanding the underlying reasons behind complacency is a valuable weapon in breaking the cycle. Although distractions lurk around every corner, leaders may find value in sharing responsibility collaboratively for individual governance. This process can be disruptive yet effective in transforming leadership at all levels.
As a senior executive, you must challenge yourself to show up for your leaders in a manner that exemplifies your willingness, openness, and readiness to engage. Refuse to allow leaders to remain complacent and instead strive to empower them to live a life leading in a state of disruptive execution. Be an advocate that won’t hold back from empowering your leaders to maximize the best of what they have to offer daily. Challenge them to confront the monotony, agitate their comfort, and drive a legacy of better possibilities.