How you lead will change the fortunes of your company. Will your leadership style ensure continued growth?
As entrepreneurs, we all start out with grand visions of building huge and successful companies. That vision drives you to succeed and you put everything that you have into leading your business.
The success comes.
And that’s when things start to get a little more dangerous.
Some leaders start sitting back and reaping the fruits of their labours. You’ve pushed so hard to get to this point that you feel like you’ve earned it. And you have. However, spending too long on celebrating your success can cause you to lose focus. The drive that got you to where you are disappears and you become a less effective leader.
You become complacent and your business suffers as a result.
The Dangers of Complacency
How do I know this?
I have been that complacent and ineffectual leader.
In 2012, I found myself enjoying plenty of success with my childcare business. I’d worked hard to build it into a successful venture and it was booming. The cash was rolling in and I felt like I was on top of the world.
I became comfortable and started to relax my leadership style. And this sent me on the slippery slope towards complacency.
Laziness took over where my drive to succeed had once existed. I started taking long weekends and was out of the office far more often than I was in it. And I was blind to how this affected my business. Complacency creeped up on me like a cancer and it very nearly killed my business. Our capacity dropped from 95% all the way down to 34%.
We’d fallen below our breakeven level and the business was now in serious trouble. I had to re-mortgage our home just to get money to keep the business afloat. That’s the danger of a complacent leadership style. As soon as you become too comfortable with your success, you become an ineffectual leader.
You start setting a bad example for your people, as I did with my four-day weekends. They see that you’re not investing the time and energy into your business. And that encourages them to treat their work with the same lazy approach.
You lose sight of your goals and the business becomes aimless. Instead of focusing on continued growth, you sit back and let the business run itself.
That doesn’t work.
Resentment builds within the company and your best people start leaving. In the end, you could have nothing left.
But there’s good news.
You can combat the dangers of complacency. But to do it, you need to develop a more effective leadership style. Here are five tips that will help you do it.
Tip #1 – Be Bold Enough to Take Risks
Think back to when you first started the business. You had all of these amazing ideas and you took risks to make them happen. You tried new things and didn’t fear the mistakes that you made.
If anything, you just treated them as learning opportunities.
But as complacency sets in, that boldness disappears. You’re no longer willing to take the risks that you need to take to ensure consistent growth. The new ideas that your people bring to you get swept under the carpet and the business starts stagnating.
Complacency isn’t the only issue at work here. Fear is also a big factor in your inability to take risks. You’re so scared of losing what you’ve built so far that you stop building altogether. The business loses the drive that your personality brought to it and you slink into the shadows.
To be an effective leader, you need to have confidence in yourself and your team. It’s crucial that you stay bold and take risks to maintain your upward momentum.
Of course, you temper these risks with research and evaluation. But what’s key is that you don’t get so complacent that you stop thinking about risks altogether.
Tip #2 – Focus on Developing Your Team
Nobody succeeds in business alone.
You have an entire team providing you with the support you need to achieve your vision. But when you become complacent, your focus on your team is one of the first things that starts slipping.
You stop offering training and the team resents the lack of development opportunities. Your lack of focus causes your best people to leave. Plus, it prevents others from reaching their full potential.
Without your guidance, the team can’t achieve the goals you’ve set for them.
Effective leaders know this and they work hard to build others up within the organisation. They know that great training empowers people and means that they perform better in their roles.
Keep communicating with and learning from your team. Take their feedback on board and provide development opportunities for them. Building a great team leads to more success in your business.
Tip #3 – Embrace Change
There may be a part of you that doesn’t want your business to grow.
You may not admit it to yourself. When you talk to other people, you discuss how you want to keep moving forward.
But your actions betray the complacency that’s crept into your leadership style. Instead of leading your team to new horizons you’re managing them so they maintain the status quo.
The company has no more energy and your people will respond in kind.
The most effective leaders embrace change. They accept that technology will disrupt their businesses, often for the better. They’re open to the ideas that their people bring to them and they know their companies have to evolve alongside the market.
When you’re complacent, you’re too satisfied with how things are right now to push those changes through. However, they can lead to you falling behind the curve as your competitors adapt while you stay still.
Great leaders remain vigilant to what’s going on in their businesses. They’re always looking for ways to improve processes and drive efficiency.
Welcome change as something that your business needs in order to thrive.
Tip #4 – Lead by Example
This is something that I failed to do in my childcare business. When I started taking long weekends, I showed my people that I’d grown complacent. To them, it seemed as though I’d stopped caring about the business.
And they responded in kind.
As a leader, you have to set the example for your team. They’re looking to you as the visionary who will drive the business to greater success. Your team doesn’t only pay attention to what you say. They’re always watching your actions and reacting accordingly.
It’s your job to lead from the front so that you inspire your team to greater things. Be there when your people are. Show them that you’re present and available to them when they need you.
An absentee leader can’t provide guidance or focus. And a team that’s left to its own devices will inevitably become complacent.
Tip #5 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
I’ve touched on this a couple of times already. But it’s worth stressing how important communication is in the grand scheme of leadership.
When you stop communicating with your team, you’re telling them that you’ve stopped caring. As you become more complacent, the one-on-one meetings don’t happen anymore. The team doesn’t meet up as often to discuss objectives. Your people can’t reach you when they really need your guidance.
And again, all of this leads to a loss of focus in the business. Poor communication results in your people having no real idea of what they’re meant to do. To develop an effective leadership style, you must recognise the importance of communication. And that means much more than simply barking out orders and leaving your people to get on with the work.
You need to make time to talk to your people and absorb their feedback. Listen to what they have to say about what it’s like to work in their positions. The people you have on the ground often provide the best insight into what’s wrong with the business.
Keep an open mind and absorb all of the ideas that your people bring to the table.
Tackle Complacency to Become an Effective Leader
Your leadership style is what will ultimately affect the course that your business takes.
An effective leader constantly drives forward. They communicate with their team and offer professional development opportunities. Great leaders set the example for their people to follow and embrace changes that can benefit their businesses.
Finally, they’re bold enough to take the risks that lead to true success.
Complacency leads to you becoming ineffectual. Everything that you’ve worked so hard to achieve can disappear in the blink of an eye if you become complacent. It is a cancer that destroys your ability to lead and will eventually kill your business.
I know first-hand because it almost happened to me.
Don’t let complacency turn you from an effective leader into an also-ran.
I can help you to tackle complacency in all areas of the workplace. Schedule a speaking engagement with me today.