Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 76: How to Recognize and Avoid Complacency In Leadership!
Hi friends! There’s a lot of people that start out their careers with all the motivation in the world to become great leaders. They want to change the world and start out working hard to be great. For the first few years or even longer, they hit the ground running. As years begin to pass, the motivation starts to slip and all the dreams of success and changing the world fade.
The drive to make every day count fades. The new desire is to do what it takes to get through each day, but then leave as soon as they can to enjoy life. Their strong dedication gets replaced with a very common disease. Now this is a very serious disease.
I have seen great people get infected with this disease to where it completely derailed their career drive. In the worst cases, this disease can lead to the loss of jobs. If you are still wondering what this terrible disease is, I like to call it complacency.
In this episode, I am going to talk about three things that happen when complacency sets in and five tips to overcome complacency.
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What Happens When Complacency Sets In?
Alright, let’s talk about what happens when complacency sets in. Several years ago, I had a great leader, Larry Spackman. He taught me a valuable lesson about complacency. He was very successful in everything he did and attributed his success to his strong drive and unrelenting desire to never back down when working to complete his goals.
When I was around him, he always stressed the importance of working hard and doing your very best. In addition, he lived what he taught. Because he was so driven, he despised complacency. He taught that complacency would keep you from reaching your dreams and goals. Larry taught me to avoid complacency at all cost and his example confirmed the validity of what taught.
There are three major side effects that come with a complacent attitude.
1. Complacency Eliminates Drive
I have seen many leaders lose their drive towards the end of their career or just before a major transition in life. They become complacent and stop doing their very best. They also begin to have a lackluster attitude towards their work and the people around them. Those leaders lose their drive because they are already thinking about their next adventure in life.
In addition to ending your career or making a major transition in life, complacency can eliminate drive any time you start to become comfortable. Once you have been in a position for a few years, it’s easy to become comfortable and feel like you are in control. That comfort often leads to complacency and a lack of drive.
2. Complacency Kills Growth Opportunities
When leaders adopt a complacent attitude, they stop stretching themselves. When opportunities for growth and advancement come along, complacency causes leaders to feel they are done growing.
Complacency gives the feeling that leaders have learned all they need to know for now,so why stretch to learn more? They feel they have learned enough, so why take on the stress of learning more. Leaders in this situation often feel that the phrase “growth opportunity” is code for “waste of my time.” This complacent approach is a complete progress killer!
3. Complacency Limits Potential
The worst aspect of complacency is that it limits your potential as a leader and a person. Everyone is born with huge potential, but to obtain that potential you must work hard. When you put forth the time and effort towards developing yourself, you will progress and it will enrich your life. However, complacency limits your progress and ultimately your potential.
5 Tips to Overcome Complacency
There are many opposites to complacency. Some include drive, hard work, and motivation. When it comes to complacency, we often go in cycles or phases. There are times when I feel complacent and lack drive to get things done. It happens to all of us. When you feel that way, identify what’s causing it and make a change. Here are five tips to overcome complacency:
1. Find or Redefine Your Purpose
When you have purpose, you are driven to be successful. If it has been a while since you looked at your purpose, thought about your goals, or considered your why, take time to revisit them today.
If you don’t feel motivated to step up and work hard to accomplish them, then it’s time to dig deeper or even change your purpose. Don’t be afraid to redefine your purpose. Define what drives you to be successful and make that your new purpose.
2. Work on Personal Growth
What personal weaknesses are holding you back? Do you have strengths that if strengthened would enable you to reach farther or even your full potential? Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, then identify how you can leverage them for the greatest benefit.
When it comes to personal growth, there’s many things you can do to get better. One of my favorites is reading good books or practicing new skills.
I love to read good books that make me want to be and do more. There’s great books on leadership, productivity, entrepreneurship, success, time management, and a wide range of other topics that drive me to improve.
I also like to learn about new skills and practice them to become better. For example, I took class on public speaking and then found opportunities to speak in public to get better.
3. Set and Work Towards Goals
I really like to set and work towards goals. I have talked in the past about how I enjoy archery. In target archery, you are always aiming for the bullseye. If your are not familiar with archery, the bullseye is the center of the target and it is usually a small circle about two inches in diameter.
Depending on what distance you are shooting from, it can be very difficult to hit the bullseye. To consistently hit the bullseye, you must practice aiming and shooting until you become proficient.
When you create a goal, you are setting the bullseye for your hard work. From there, just like with archery, you regularly work hard to complete your goal. The results often don’t happen over night, but through diligent hard work, you can successfully complete your goal.
When creating goals, it is good to set both short and long term goals. I usually set goals for the next week, month, quarter, year, 5-years and 10-years. Usually the short term goals are required actions to complete the long-term goals.
4. Find a Daily Challenge
I’ve held several positions in my career and in each one there has always been new challenges. As time progresses, those challenges often become easier to handle as I’ve gotten more proficient in my job. However, there are always new challenges and at time they almost seem daily.
If you are beginning to feel complacency setting in, find a new challenge or opportunity to work hard. That can be getting to know new people outside your specific area of responsibility or finding opportunities to improve your current processes for the best end result. There are also a wide range of other challenges you can address. Pick something new to drive you everyday. That new item will help you to become your best self.
5. Recharge the Batteries
Successful people are extremely driven. They usually do not work the typical 9-to-5 working day. They often go long periods of time without what most people would call “work-life balance.” In many cases, this is necessary to attain professional success.
Although this lifestyle is required at times, it can’t be maintained indefinitely without sacrificing other aspects of life. That can be family, church, personal health, or even alone time. When you are doing everything you can to keep up, you will most likely reach burnout which then leads to complacency.
To avoid this complacency driver, build in time for rest, relaxation, hobbies, reflection and quality time with family and friends. This is gives you the energy to continue to compete, innovate and succeed. Otherwise you become the proverbial hamster in the wheel. The wheel — or the hamster — ultimately breaks down.
Now let’s wrap things up with a quick recap. When complacency sets in, it eliminates drive, kills growth opportunities, and limits potential. That can lead to stagnation in work, and in the worst cases, the loss of jobs.
To overcome complacency, you can do one or all of the following:
- Find or Redefine Your Purpose
- Work on Personal Growth
- Set and Work Towards Goals
- Find a Daily Challenge
- Recharge the Batteries
I have found that these actions are especially helpful in my life and help me to be more driven and successful.
Before we go, I invite you to do some internal reflection. Are you becoming complacent? Have you lost some of your drive to work hard? Are you counting the hours each day until closing time so you can be done for the day? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, check out the show notes for this episode for a complete summary of what was discussed in this episode. You’ll find them at LeadershipDoneRight.com/PodcastEpisode76/.
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