Entering a new year only means that we have a reference point for change. If you want more of what you had in 2021, keep doing the same things. If you don’t, then change. You can do it at any time. You don’t have to do it in January. I have found that most of the major changes in my life happened between May and November. See? When we decided to do things differently, it doesn’t really matter. Making the change is what matters.
Here are three observations and responses that can help you make 2022 a better year than you have had in a decade. Does that sound too optimistic? Then read on because you may be trapped in a mindset that is holding you back from leading your organization.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
There is a great deal of insecurity being expressed by people. The world is in transition. Nothing new here. We know this. Except do we understand this.
The reality is that the administrative systems of the world are in bad shape. They are failing. They are creating a burden that makes it difficult for organizations to function well. What is the ratio of salespeople to administrators that your organization has hired in the last decade? Why are you hiring them? Are they producing revenue for your organization? If not, why? If so, why? You need to understand this question because it is going to grow in severity.
You can only see this clearly by thinking for yourself. I’m sure you want to feel like you are doing the right thing. You want to be on the cutting edge of innovation or whatever that edge truly is. The problem is that today there is no way to know by comparing ourselves to other people. You can only know the right thing by deciding for yourself.
Last year, I wrote two short books to help people stop being poorly led by the tyranny of other people’s bad decisions. I wrote May Your No Be A Yes: A Guide To Making Better Decisions and Solving Problems: A Guide To Being a Person of Impact. Until you can make your own decisions, instead of constantly looking to other people for direction, you are going to be stuck in a downward spirial of never understanding why your business is losing ground. It is really simple. You can lead your business or run it into the ground.
A core problem for leaders is that we compare ourselves to other people. We are insecure and afraid to look different. We follow people because we think they are leaders in our industry. The truth is that they are really good at marketing their public image. That is what influence is. The more they influence us by our clicks and likes, the more income they generate. I’m not being critical about this. I am being realistic.
Ask this question.
Of the people that I follow, that I look up to as leaders in my field, what kind of accountability do I have with them?
Can I send them DM and give them my thoughts, and they respond in return respectfully?
We need to be careful in how we compare ourselves to other people. We need to be more self-aware about what matters to us.
Ask this question.
Can you stand on principle when everyone else you know seems to be going in a different direction?
It is really hard. However, if you can stand on your values, then you will begin to be the person that others will be comparing themselves to. You will see why the crowd is often wrong. And where genuine confidence and peace of mind come from.
Experts Don’t Know Everything
An expert is someone who knows more about a specific subject than we do. We go to an auto mechanic because they know more about brake systems and transmissions than we do. The knowledge that they have is specialized. We do not use our mechanic to represent us in court or conduct heart surgery. Their expertise is specific and respect for them is earned.
Ironically, we are living in a time where the expert has increasingly less value. Why?
It use to be that the world was simple. Expertise was easily translateable to our daily lives. However, over the past decade, in particular, the world is becoming more complex. Increasingly, we need people who are capable of taking information from a number of different fields and bringing it together into a perspective that makes sense of the complexity we are experiencing. We call these people generalists.They are not the opposite of experts. They are different. They will draw upon expertise, but not rely on it solely.
Most experts were never taught to master a wide spectrum of knowledge. They are credentialed to know more about one thing than everyone else. Their reputation and their careers are based on specialized knowledge. Their problem is what happens when the complexity of the world pulls the rug out from under their feet, and they are no longer seen as a person of influence. It doesn’t mean that their knowledge isn’t valuable. It means that the context of their expertise has changed, and they didn’t adapt.
It is important that we do our own homework to learn what we need to know. It does not mean that we stop listening to people. It means that we have to remove the distractions that keep us from learning. Think of it this way. The transition we need to make is from having opinions about other people’s ideas to having our own opinions that we are willing to act on in our lives and work.
The World is Not Simple
Our lives are no longer simple. This transition from simple to complex once was gradual. We could manage it. Then during the past decade, things got complicated.
I noticed that people began to hunker down into a closed, protective mindset. This happened many years before the COVID-19 pandemic. It accelerated following the recession of the late 2000s. This closed mindset basically expressed a wish that we could go back to easier times. As a result, people began to hold out for better times. Or, the wish to return to normal.
The normal didn’t return. It isn’t going to return. The conditions that made normal the easy time that it was are gone. The complexity is growing.
What does this complexity look like?
Every time that you have to think twice about some task that before you did automatically, you are experiencing greater complexity. it is a product of the growing administrative burden that we all share.
We experience complexity when we feel:
The fear of non-compliance.
The fear of unrecoverable mistakes.
The fear of not knowing what everyone else knows.
Each feeling is a reflection of the growing complexity of our world. Add a global pandemic with growing government demands and is it any wonder people are hunkering down into their protective mindsets.
Three things you can do.
Simplify everything that you can.
Rid yourself of as many distractions as possible. Focus on what is most important to you. If you do not know right now, then make this a goal for 2022. In twelve months, plan to know what is most important to you. If you need help, ask.
Analyze the administrative demands on your organization. Ask these questions:
When did the administrative burden begin to grow?
What is the effect upon our people and the organization’s bottom line?
How has this complexity impacted our customers?
Elevate the leadership capacity of your people.
The structure of your business has to change in order to arrest the effects of complexity. You can’t do it by changing processes and protocols. You can only do it by elevating the leadership capacity of your people.
There are two specific ways to inspire and equip your people to take leadership initiative.
Equip them to solve the problems that are their immediate concern and their customer’s immediate concern.
Let them be free to talk with whoever can help them solve their problems.
Lead from Within, Not from Above
A reason why many organizations fail to adequately address the growing complexity of their business has to do with the changes in the role of senior leadership. Here are three things that this person can do to change the context of their organization.
Tell why the company matters. Connect shared values to a common purpose for impact.
Build relationships of respect, trust, and mutual accountability. Do your people trust you? They will if you show them respect.
Focus on impact, rather than process. What is the change that makes a difference that matters because of your products and your people? Celebrate this!
Whether the next year is going to be hard or easy doesn’t matter.
What matters is who you are going to be with your people every day.
Stand with them. Walk next to them. Encourage them. Learn from them. Thank them.
Be the person that they want to stand with, walk next to, encourage, and learn from.
This is really the only option that we have if we refuse to give up and allow circumstances to dictate our lives.