Create a compelling organizational story. If your people don’t seem to fully understand the purpose of the business or organization and how that drives decision-making and allocation of resources, initiate a story-creation session with your direct reports and high potential employees. Ensure that they can, and do, translate that story down into the organization.
Revisit your team’s purpose and operating model. If your people appear disgruntled or unmotivated, collaborate with your team to draft rules of engagement and a charter for the team. Come together around what you’re doing, as well as how you’re doing it, and ensure that everyone holds each other accountable to those priorities and behaviors. And then reward your culture-carriers publicly.
Take a more active approach to engaging and managing your stakeholders. If you’ve lost the attention and engagement of the people who can most influence your outcomes and success, create a map and management plan for internal and external stakeholders. Follow up by developing a refocused strategy to lift and shift your efforts to relationship-building with your most important stakeholders. (Odds are you’re not currently spending enough time with them.)
Reconsider your sources of authority. If your followers are not following you with enthusiasm and your superiors seem unimpressed with your leadership, ask yourself the brutal question: Why would anyone want to follow you? Broaden your experience, your style and your reading and self-development. Take a broader look at your company and industry to develop your systems and strategic-thinking capabilities.
Reassess where you’re focusing your time and energy. If you feel like you’re working harder than ever and not getting results, take a look at your calendar. Time spent doing “this” means time not spent doing “that.” Are you differentiating the urgent from the important? Are you saving your bursts of high energy for where they will have the greatest impact: in your interactions with others? Are you delegating all the things others can do, freeing you up to do the more critical things that only you can do? Are you giving yourself time to think and reflect?
Ask yourself how much you’re really committed to developing others. If you feel like you’re not getting the lift you need, it may be time to create a stronger bench and set of teammates. Most leaders significantly under-invest in personally developing and coaching their people, and they also over-estimate how much time they devote to this activity. The best leaders dedicate themselves to creating other leaders—in fact, creating leaders may well be the single most important job of any leader!
Even leaders at the highest levels can confuse the challenges of managing through complexity with those of leading with sophistication. Advancing to the next level as a leader will demand skills, behaviors and mindsets you may not have thought much about. As executive coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith famously noted, “What got you here won’t get you there.” And the bigger the job, the greater the demand for leadership sophistication. If you don’t grow yourself as you grow your organization, you won’t advance to the next level.
To be effective as a leader, you must cultivate self-awareness and recognize when you need to reinvent not only the business and organization you lead but also yourself.