I don’t sleep, I lay in bed longer than I ever have in years, I get frustrated over the littlest things, people don’t follow the rules and expectations. I think I have fallen into a slump. I ask myself regularly, “is it worth the effort to try and fix this? I’ll answer that in a bit.
Baseball players fall into hitting slumps, the stock market hits slumps, restaurants and retail chains have slumped, running backs can’t gain any yards, NASCAR drivers can’t win a race. Of course, leaders fall into slumps. Come on, we all fall into slumps!
It can be challenging to know when we fall into a slump because it is hard to define when and where it began. But I think we all know when we are in one.
When a leader falls into a slump, the influential leaders will fight their way out. The others will look for the easy way out. We can fall into a slump at any time. Many leaders have found themselves in multiple situations during this past challenging year, where they fall into a slump or two or three. I know I have fallen into slumps several times and have had to work hard to recover fully.
What are some signs of a slump?
- Not meeting budgets
- Not addressing customer needs
- I can’t get the sales I need to make the salary I am used to
- The plan isn’t being executed or isn’t working
- People aren’t following expected safety behaviors or following our policies and procedures
- My team won’t respond to my expectations
When we fall into a slump, we are often tempted to look for a faster way out. We become somewhat fixated on looking for a short cut to fix everything. Sometimes short cuts put us in an even deeper slump. It may not be now, but it can certainly affect tomorrow. Crawling out of a slump can be a challenge; it is grueling and can be a long road to recovery. We are struggling; the lure of an invincible shortcut can be irresistible.
Giving in to a shortcut can result in a high cost of negativity;
Loss of credibility
- Loss of respect
- Loss of trust
- Confusion among the team
- Slowing of momentum
- Reduction in your influence
So, what are these leadership shortcuts? Here are three of the most common shortcuts leaders take when trying to get out of their slump.
Creating policies or procedures
Achieving the vision requires a leader to move people forward. It requires influence, high-performance team members, responsibility, and accountability. But instead of doing this hard work, leaders tend to opt instead to churn out a few policies and procedures. I understand policies and procedures play a significant part in business; however, they can’t be the result of a slumping leader.
When a person loses their cool, it’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Our frustration comes out, so we pitch a fit. It’s like we are creating an atmosphere of fear and manipulation. Leadership is not about fear, manipulation, and position; it is about persuasion, engagement, and influence.
Do it, and create another shortcut.
Reorganize your team, your vision …or anything else.
A leader paralyzed with indecision will whip out a piece of paper, run to a whiteboard and start drawing boxes, circles, and lines with abandon.
A new and exciting thing will emerge in time, and the resulting change will provide another illusion that real leadership has taken place.
But, once again, it’s just another shortcut.
SO WHAT, NOW WHAT
Shortcuts, really? Shortcuts are not the solution to the situation, rather they are a temporary fix to creating an everlasting leadership challenge. Leadership can be difficult. Pulling yourself out of the slump requires a lot of effort; moving forward requires a tremendous effort and determination.
Go deeper, not wider. Going deep will lead to wide.
In difficult times, it can be very attractive to take a shortcut. But resist the easy way “out” and instead be committed to the hard work of leadership.
To answer my question up top, it is worth fixing your slump; the results will be worth it.