Companies that have plateaued are often eerily similar to actors whose careers have plateaued. There's often a reluctance to confront the changing times connected to a refusal to do anything different (scary).
If you don't want to drown, this means you need to move your arms and legs. In business this translates to leading with courage. Not everyone is capable of that, nor is everyone willing.
Being an effective leader requires a variety of skills, but arguably the two most important are vision and charisma. If you want to lead a company in a way that is effective, unforgettable, and that commands respect, read on.
1. Recharge your battery each day.
Unfortunately, this is not a one-size-fits all solution. Different people recharge via a variety of means.
Some people need an hour of quiet time a day. Other people need to hit the golf course or else. And still others chat with a friend, family member, or psychic buddy.
If you haven't identified what it is that you need each day to function at your best, you're setting yourself up for foggy thinking, resentment, and a sheer inability to function at your best. It's going to be next to impossible to think outside the box, or imagine with real clarity how you can elevate yourself and your business beyond what now exists.
Henry Ford understood this innately and cut his employees' hours from 48 hours per week to 40, finding that they were more productive with fewer hours. People work more effectively when they're not burned-out: "Work less, and you'll tend to work better."
2. Act in accordance with what your gut instincts tell you.
I chuckle when people say this step is easy. The failure to follow this advice is frankly what holds back careers in numerous industries, relegating people to mediocrity and the sad chorus of what might have been.
Your mind and your gut might often disagree on the best course of action. This is to be expected.
The mind is great at creating worries, fears, and problems that will realistically never occur. The gut is great at zeroing in, like a hot knife through butter, on the heart of the matter and the best solution.
The only problem with the gut's problem-solving methods is the reluctance of so many to follow it: But what if I'm wrong? Many of my clients fret about exactly this.
Being a visionary means opening up your arms to failure and committing to the idea that success depends on repeated effort.
3. Do the opposite.
Truly one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld was when George did the opposite of every instinct he ever had, and then experienced wild success.
While I'm not encouraging you to do that exactly, what I do strongly suggest is that you brainstorm about what you think your competition is planning for the future, or in response to a given industry stressor, and then do something different that's possibly braver and gutsier. Take the less obvious choice.
For example, if you're losing business to a competitor, what's an obvious "solution" that your competition might think of? How about 10 percent off your products? Yawn.
Anyone who thinks offering a discount is a means of creating a competitive advantage will typically never be a wild success, as "discounts" can significantly devalue a product or service by showing your customer what it's really worth.
4. Validate people.
At the end of the day, virtually everyone you come in contact with just wants simple acceptance. This is exponentially true in the workplace.
Too many CEOs act like they're simply cold leaders, as if real power were synonymous only with an iron fist. That couldn't be more out of touch with reality.
The most effective CEOs I know smile, make jokes, know the names of their staff members' kids, and act like they care. They know how to validate ideas, even ones they don't like. Such behavior encourages loyalty, respect, and hard work.
If you're not ready to make some real leaps at the risk of failure and scorn, then you will never discover the limitless benefits of being a truly effective leader.