It goes without saying that every business owner wants great results.  A few have the discipline to create and follow a plan to produce those desired results.  However, many default to busyness and assume that they are reaching their goals, only to be met with frustration.  That’s called the “status-quo”.  We want great results, but unintentionally allow ourselves to pursue mediocrity.

leadership-photoIt also goes without saying that to produce the results you want, it’s up to you, the leader, to take action that will make a difference.  Unfortunately, no one else will do it for you.  But busyness has self-limiting attributes that prevent clear thinking and create roadblocks to change.  Default behaviors can leave our people, customers and vendors wanting and expecting more when our business needs us most.

I’ve noticed something insidious about this issue; we are our own worst enemies when it comes to breaking self-limiting cycles.  When allowing ourselves to be caught up in daily routines without stopping to capture the moment and shift to the most valuable activities, we create our own boundaries.  Habitual behaviors are a real threat to our growth and success.  Not only do they block us from reaching the goals we say we want, they also limit the success of the people around us, which is a real loss for an organization!

How exactly can you adopt breakthrough behaviors to become a catalyst for change?  These three leadership axioms are a good starting place for business owners who are serious about beating the status-quo.

  1. Self-assessment

In The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, legendary leadership author Peter Drucker has said that “Self-assessment is the first action requirement of leadership”.  He goes on to add that “Self-assessment can and should convert good intentions into effective action”.  Busyness is not a badge of honor, progress is!  No organization can grow or mature if its leadership does not.

The first step is to become intentional about what you want and who you must become to get there.  To breakout of habitual cycles of behavior requires intentional introspection and discipline.  It’s hard work – maybe the hardest you will ever face, but it is the one thing that will get you (and your organization) where you want to go.  In fact, rigorous self-assessment is what sets winning companies apart from average.

  1. Saying “NO”

Maybe the second hardest discipline leaders must learn is how and when to say “NO”.  Human nature is to say “yes” – that is, to please others.  We naturally want those around us (employees, trades partners, vendors and especially customers) to like us and be happy.  Ironically, no leader can ever gain the respect and credibility he or she must have to succeed without the ability to define and maintain healthy boundaries.

To break the “nice” cycle and gain leadership traction, set clear expectations for everyone.  Employees and customers alike must know the boundaries up front before you can enforce them in a healthy and mutually beneficial way.  And consider that your real goal in any relationship is not to be liked, but rather to be trusted.  When people trust you they will love you.

  • Focus

Busyness is your enemy not your friend!  Focus moves clutter to the sideline and opens a conduit to progressive thinking and action.  Many leaders feel trapped by the weight of responsibility.  In reality though, that is just an excuse.  If a business is to grow, leaders must intentionally distance themselves from daily activities and responsibilities over time.   That means others must be empowered and trusted to fail.  Most leaders I know hate that thought and fight against it by taking on every responsibility themselves!  It never works long-term.

Stopping long enough to define clear and compelling goals is the beginning of change.  Without a target and a bullseye to aim at the status-quo rules our lives and organizations.  What do you really want?  What’s most meaningful to you?  Is that worth the pain of change?  What’s true for you is true for your people too.  Everyone wants to do meaningful work.  Compelling goals, when stated overtly and often, redirect limited resources (time, energy, money) towards the most productive activities in the moment.  That starts with a leader who is on purpose and focused on what’s most important.

Self-assessment, saying “NO”, and focus: three axioms that when practiced, change people and organizations for the better, one disciplined decision at a time.  We are ultimately a product of our decisions.  And those decisions always influence the organizations we lead, for better or for worse.  What decisions do you need to make today to produce the results you want tomorrow?