Five Ways Leaders Lose Their Edge

Filed in Business Management by on December 26, 2014 0 Comments

Whether economic times are flourishing or floundering, many leaders get stuck in the same trap: They don’t take time to stop and reflect on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Because there’s so much for them to do, they’re constantly on the go, striving to deliver results.

leadershipThat’s why they need to take a step back and give their actions some serious thought. Only then can they see what they bring to their leadership position and how it can help them reach both their personal and professional objectives.

The fact is many leaders get so fixated on the success of their team and the results of their efforts, that they forget to focus on themselves. If you’ve ever felt that you’re working harder and harder but feeling less and less fulfilled, you may be making one of the following mistakes.

Ignore the vision. Having a vision means you’re clear about what you want. You are able to describe it in vivid detail. You know a little something about what it will take to get there and how it will feel to arrive. When you have a clear vision, you can connect to an inner source of inspiration that will call you forth and compel you to achieve your goals. Therefore, you need a vision for the company, but also for your own role as a leader.

Lose focus. Once you know your vision and what you want to achieve as a leader, you need to stay focused on it. As Harvard Business School Professor Robert Kaplan commented, “Having 15 priorities is the same as not having any at all.” There’s only so much you can think about at once. Finding focus is about choosing where to put your time, energy and attention. It means highlighting, combining, minimizing and even deleting priorities so your choices fit neatly in the greater context of your life. Once you know what’s most important, you can let other things drop.

Take inefficient action. After you decide where to focus, make sure your daily action plans reflect that priority — not just the 25 other things on the list. Stop asking, “How can I do everything I need to do in a day?” and start asking, “What are the most effective actions I can take to move toward my vision, and how can I ensure that I take those actions now?” By investing in the planning process and then taking targeted action, you can shave hours, weeks and even months off the time it takes to reach your goals.

Do things the hard way. In business and in life, you always have a choice. You can continue to do things the hard way, the usual way, the way you’ve always done them. Or, you can do things your way — the way you were made to do them. The key is to identify, maximize and leverage your unique attributes so you can be an effective, higher achieving leader.

Become disconnected from work. To be successful, you need to connect not only to your work, but also to an inner sense of vitality. Finding fulfillment with your work means understanding what you’re striving for: the meaning, the purpose, the essence. When you lack fulfillment, you lose your edge. Your energy goes down while your stress goes up. You may even feel guilty and resentful. You might get short-tempered or edgy. These are some of the experiences leaders seek when they seek success. The key to finding fulfillment at work is to identify what success means to you — not the results, but the spirit of a life well lived.

While these five missteps are by no means inclusive of all leadership pitfalls, avoiding them will help you lay the foundation for exceptional leadership results.

About the author: Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D., and author of  The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, is an executive coach specializing in leadership development. She strategizes with business leaders to enhance their performance and maximize business results. 

Reprinted with permission. Article has been edited for the blog.

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