Curing A Lapse in Leadership


Avoiding the Eeyore Syndrome

As the pressures of executive leadership continue to increase, and the consistency of morale compasses is severely challenged, there is a need for stability and focus to be demonstrated. Faced with overwhelming challenges in their industry, businesses, or personal lives, some leaders become disenfranchised with their prime motives. All too often we hear leaders express frustration, despair and, more disturbingly, fatalism. There is, however, a way around this.

This is normal–but not acceptable. A leader’s personal lapse into the self-deprecating state can be likened to the Eeyore Syndrome. Eeyore, the forever-complacent donkey of A. A. Milne, represents a behaviour of accepting a less than desired outcome. Eeyore will accept any situation visited upon him and change his behaviour to accommodate the new circumstances. Interestingly, this attitude is reflected in current jargon. How many times in your day do you hear someone say “whatever”? This “whatever” attitude achieves nothing personally or in a leadership role. Leadership is about not accepting the status quo and leading your organization (or yourself) to change. What can you do? Here are five steps to take to ward off the Eeyore syndrome:

1. Experiential Learning

If this (bad) thing is happening to me it must be for some reason. What can learn from it and use it to strengthen my resolve? Look deeply into your challenges and determine what action you can take to eliminate the recurrence, lessen the damage, or stand tall through the deluge.

2, Banish “Whatever”

Use success-oriented language. Words such as achieve, focus, specific, and objectives  will quickly dissolve the Eeyore negatives. Your verbal and body language telegraphs to those around you  just how committed you are to seeing and achieving a compelling future.

3. Vision Tune-up

Is your vision and mission statement relevant? Has your industry shifted enough for you to change your focus? Does your current strategy take advantage of important future opportunities? If so, get on with making it happen. If not, take time to resolve your uncertainties—re-align your mission to achieve your outcomes in an ever-changing world. As a leader you will never come to a point of stable equilibrium, more likely, you will only have the luxury of moving in and out of an unstable equilibrium. This is not a thing to despair—get over it and get on with it.

4. Play to win

Life is too short to become complacent with what fate dishes out to you. Nothing diffuses leadership like playing not to lose! Regardless of what hand you are dealt, find some way to play to win. Your contemplating of the situation in order to divine the wins will be seen as a strength. Creative leaders find a win in every situation.

5. Keys to start a change

A colleague of mine developed a novel way to maintain a positive leadership behaviour by following a simple formula. At the start of each day, a two-part key ring containing a car and a house key was placed in a left hand pocket. During the day, each time my friend articulated a strong leadership message to another employee, one of the keys would be moved to a right hand pocket. At the end of the day, if both keys ended up in the right pocket, my friend would feel that some personal progress had been made. I recall there were a few times when a late evening would draw to a close with my friend making the extra effort to speak to someone to achieve the right hand pocket.

What have you gained?

Leadership attitude is about developing and applying an appropriate set of behaviours in an ever-changing world, and not accepting the status quo. Focus your energy on what you can do to lead the change, not on “whatever”.

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