When a business is not reaching its goals, leaders tend to look up, down and all around to find the source of the trouble. Is the market changing? Are competitors outsmarting us? Is the economy to blame?
These are all logical places to look to solve the problem of slow growth. When that fails, there’s one more area to many leaders forget to explore.
Uncovering hidden growth potential requires answering one tough question:
Are you the problem?
Before you answer, consider your response to these queries:
- Do you tend to assume you always know best?
- Are your people tentative when surfacing new ideas?
- Do you discount input from others, especially outsiders?
- Are you reliant on processes you’ve used successfully for years?
- Do you like to mull over important decisions?
- When you’re stressed, do you retreat inwardly or micromanage employees?
- Does uncertainly make you uncomfortable, especially when business investments are involved?
- Does your staff fight a lot instead of working well together?
- When presented with an opportunity, how much time do your spend researching it before jumping on board?
- Do you ask for, and accept, feedback from others?
Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to share your answers. Be honest with yourself and you may see some patterns emerge:
- If you tend to seek you own counsel and avoid outside feedback, you might unintentionally be deflecting valuable insights. Practice being more open and receptive, and you just might discover news ways to solve some of you toughest challenges.
- If you need lots or time and data to make decisions, you could be missing opportunities. Work on being more decisive and trusting your team. Act when you’re reasonably confident rather than waiting to be absolutely sure. The difference between 80% confidence and 100% certainty is likely a whole lot of revenue with minimal downside.
- If you avoid conflict and retreat when stress surfaces, it’s possible that you’re allowing an unhealthy culture to flourish. Fight the instinct to step back and face problems head on instead. Stop the discord, have the difficult conversations, and accept that you can’t always be right. Your people will respect and support you more for it.
All leaders have moments when they need to be introspective in order to grow. Make self-reflection a weekly habit and check your own performance. Try a 5 minute Friday afternoon check-in to stop bad habits and reward yourself for replacing them with better ones.
Pretty soon you’ll feel less burdened and more optimistic as fresh opportunities (the ones you were unwittingly blocking) appear in right in front of you, ready to be seized.