Are You in a Leadership Rut?
Mar 2019

Are You in a Leadership Rut?


Many of us have experienced times in our careers when work seemed stale and personal progress slowed. This can be particularly true for a leader, especially if you’ve been leading for a while. Leaders can find themselves sticking with a single leadership style, instead of adapting and trying new approaches. But the pace of change demands that leaders continue growing. Those who don’t will find themselves in a leadership rut.

Not only are technology and consumer needs constantly evolving, but so is the workforce, with new generations entering the workplace who demand to be managed in a different way. Leaders need to engage each of their employees and help them reach their full potential, and adaptive leadership is the way to do it.

If you feel like your leadership may have gotten stale, here are some ways to change it up:

Take 360-degree evaluation.Work with a leadership coach or someone in your HR department to conduct an interview of select managers, colleagues and employees—all to give feedback on your leadership. Discover what they feel you are doing well, and what you could be doing better. This can provide a baseline for a tune-up and help you set goals and direction.

Become a student.Set aside time each week to learn, whether it’s reading books or articles, listening to podcasts, or watching short videos such as TED Talks. You can choose leadership topics, self-improvement topics, or general business themes—anything that will deepen your knowledge and give you a new perspective to work from. You can even choose a singular leadership topic and dive deep into studying it for a few months, learning everything you can about it.

Find a mentor.You’re never too old to have leadership inspiration. Identify a person you believe is leading in a modern way, and take that person out to lunch. Get to know what they are doing when it comes to leadership, what’s working for them, and how you might be able to implement their approach in your own organization.

Change up your crowd.Consider joining a networking or leadership group, especially one that includes leaders with fresh perspectives, such as young CEOs. Another great way to do this is to join a mastermind group made up of leaders from a variety of industries. Through their experiences, you will be exposed to new ways of doing things, and even be able to share your own insight to help them change up their leadership style.

Take a sabbatical.Sometimes completely stepping away is the best way to break old habits and receive inspiration. One of my clients took a year off to travel the world. He had a competent staff that covered for him, and ultimately it was great for his team to step up and demonstrate what they could do. He came back refreshed, energized, and inspired. You may not be able to take a year off, but consider going on a leadership retreat or an extended (and completely unplugged) vacation, with a goal of journaling and reflection. This can be great on both ends—for the people in your office and for you.

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