One of the key differences between great leaders and good leaders is that great leaders know well ahead of time when changes need to be made quickly.
Like anyone else, great leaders also go through periods of struggle or a rut, but they don’t allow themselves to remain in a leadership rut for long periods of time.
The danger leaders face for not dealing with a rut quickly is that it will:
- Affect their self-confidence, which will affect their ability to make right decisions.
- Reduce their motivation and effectiveness.
- Lower the moral and performance of their teams.
- Put additional stress or pressure on their relationships.
- Affect their overall well-being.
The key is for leaders to be aware when they aren’t performing at the level they should be in their leadership roles and turn it around quickly.
In my experience, I understand whenever I feel like I am in a leadership or performance rut, it’s because of things not going well in other areas of my life. It’s no surprise that if we’re struggling in one area of our lives, other areas will also be affected.
I remember the time when I was managing a manufacturing site and was leading a team of about thirty shop-floor workers and five office workers. One of the biggest challenges a new leader has is earning the trust and respect of their team members.
At that time, I was experiencing health challenges, which affected my ability to focus on what I needed to do to be an effective leader. As I had started off in my leadership role cautiously because I didn’t want to “rock the boat,” my team members weren’t willing to share what was really going on and bring forth ideas on how things could be improved.
I took a few months to find my feet and earn the respect and trust of my team members. That, coincidently happened, as my health improved and because I was more present at work, instead of worrying about things that were affecting me personally.
The good news is all leaders will experience challenging times and powerful leaders are the ones that will grow as a result of their challenges and become better leaders.
Things You Can Do to Get Out of a Leadership Rut
Here are five things a leader can do whenever they feel like they’re in a leadership or performance rut, so they can quickly change how they are performing and get the outcomes they want.
- Evaluate your priorities. Most times, any performance rut we experience is due to unclarity and a lack of focus. Once we can get back to what matters most and focus on what we should do, things become a lot simpler because we have more clarity. Knowing what our top priority is each day is a fundamental requirement for any leader.
- Eliminate what’s unnecessary. Mental clutter and confusion often leads to unnecessary actions, which can slow down our progress and affect our performance. A key role of a leader is to eliminate what’s not required and delegate low-valued activities and focus more on high-valued activities.
- Explore new opportunities. A universal law is that every problem or challenge also has a solution. We cannot have one without the other. We can look at a leadership rut at as an opportunity to look at new possibilities and solutions to take our leadership to another level. It starts off by being open to new ideas.
- Enhance your leadership skills. Whenever we’re not getting the results we want, it’s often a reflection of what’s going on internally for us. It may mean we have to learn new things to become a better leader. By continuously investing in ourselves, we’ll improve our knowledge, skills and overall awareness of how to be a better, more effective leader.
- Engage the help of others. Often, a simple way to get out of a rut is to ask for help. This could be by speaking to a trusted advisor, a coach or mentor, or even our team members. Leaders don’t always have the answers, but great leaders know where to go to get answers.
A leadership rut is a sign we have to do things differently. If we want to become an outstanding leader, we must accept whenever we’re struggling, we have to take more effective actions to get out of our rut. The actions described above will help any leader get back on track quickly and achieve the results they want.
Action Step: If you feel you are struggling either in your personal life or in your leadership role, start by evaluating your priorities first. Be clear on what you want to achieve or what your goals are, which will then help to focus on what’s most important to you.
Question: What is another action a leader can take to get out of a rut?