Do you have leadership insanity?
The German-born American Physicist, Albert Einstein is given credit for the words often used to paint a picture of insanity…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Insanity is another way of saying poor performance…or that someone is “stuck”.
Albert’s simple definition clearly exposes how individuals can consistently underperform in work or life. To “expect” a different outcome or to hope for improved performance does not make it so. Improved performance, the end of doing “less well than expected”, is possible when you change ineffective, unproductive behavior.
Mark* is VP of Marketing and Sales for a privately held company. Over the course of our coaching engagement, we began to identify what was getting in his way. For example: when he started a new initiative he was often overly optimistic about what he and his team could accomplish and the potential upside for the company. Once the decision was made to move forward, execution became a problem leading to missed goals.
He was so busy he took on projects without considering existing priorities. Often he covered for someone on his team — “a nice guy” but accountability was minimized. Lack of focus dominated team planning meetings. Over the course of several months we were able to identify replacement behaviors.
Here are a few of the changes he is using to improve his performance:
- Reflection – creating a time and a place that allows him to slow down, gain clarity, and make better decisions
- Core Motive – he discovered what drives his behavior; now he can leverage this driving force instead of being pushed around by it
- Expectation Setting – with a four step process (Communication, Commitment, Consequences, and Coaching) he enjoys greater clarity with his boss, his peers, and his subordinates
- Delegation – he changed his thinking about the role of delegation; no longer “dumping on others” instead it is a “developmental opportunity” for emerging leaders
- Asking Questions – this foundation to great leadership improves performance. My mantra is “Ask more, tell less, teach when you can”. Learning to frame open ended questions is a key skill for every leader.
How do you discover insanity in your leadership or organization?
Consider these steps:
- Where is current performance unacceptable…where are you stuck?
- Schedule time for consistent reflection and notice what is going on around you.
- How is your behavior impacting others, the situation; what’s getting in your way?
- What change would make a difference? What might you stop doing? Start doing?
- Rally your support system to get it done.
Here is what I believe . . .
The best predictor of future success is the
ability and willingness to learn and change
achieved through consistent reflection on truth delivered
by experience, feedback, success, and failure.
Steve Laswell, The People Developer
Last week I called the owner of the company to follow up since my coaching engagement with Mark had officially ended. He confirmed significant improvement with his leader. It is Mark’s willingness to reflect on reality that allowed him to stop the insanity and accelerate his leadership development.
For your reflection:
- As a leader, what are you doing that may be holding you back from your full potential?
- When do you practice consistent reflection?
- Where do you see insanity in your leadership…your leaders?
What’s the good news?
Insanity is optional; improved performance is, too.
*Some information was changed to protect the privacy of the individual.