Positive momentum is a leaders best friend. Negative momentum his worst enemy. In my time as a leader and in my studies of leadership I have discovered 5 main momentum killers.
- Disengaged leadership. When the senior leader of an organization disengages from the vision and the pursuit of excellence, it won't take long for the entire organization to follow. There are several causes that may lead to a leader's disengagement. The first one may be boredom. Once a leader reaches a goal or achieves success it is human nature to relax and coast. Without a new challenge in front of them, a leader easily becomes bored. They stop forging ahead with vision and creativity. Once these are lost, positive momentum ceases. The second cause for disengagement may be exhaustion. It is within a leader's nature to push towards a goal or a cause until they can push no more. If a leader does not learn how to recreate himself and refuel his tank, it won't be long before the tank is empty and there is no more to give. The only option is to disengage. This can be a killer to the entire team's momentum.
- Distracted leadership. There are many things that may distract a leader from the vision or cause. One of the biggest distractions I've seen is again caused by success. Once an organization experiences great momentum, it is only a matter of time before it gains the attention of the outside world. If a leader isn't careful, he may give in to the flattery and attention he will receive outside of his organization. I've seen many a leader spend too much time traveling and speaking to build their own portfolio while the the platform that got them there suffers and loses momentum. It's important as leaders to set a clear set of priorities and accountabilities to remain focused on the job at hand.
- Complexity. A simple focused vision will cause positive momentum. But it's extremely difficult to stay focused when the organization begins to grow. It is much easier to add to the portfolio of programs and systems, than it is to keep things simple and focused. Once things become complex and cluttered, everything becomes confusing and confusion will kill momentum. It is vitally important for leaders to guard simplicity. This means that sometimes we need to eliminate what's good for what's best. This is not easy, but positive momentum depends on it.
- Over active management. Leaders lead with vision. A clear vision can spark momentum. While the leader focuses on what the organization does, the managers focus on the how. Managers are the detail people, and they are vital to an organization's health. However, the temptation of every leader is to get bogged down in the details when there's extreme positive momentum. If the leader takes on the role of the manager, the vision fades. Once the vision leaks it is only a matter of time before the momentum will be lost.
- Breach of integrity / lack of trust in a leader. We have all witnessed a leader on top of the world suddenly lose it all because of a breach of integrity. Many organizations, both in the business world and in the Church have never recovered from a major breach of trust. This is why it is so important for leaders to place more value on their character than on their performance. We can all recover from a poor performance, but it is virtually impossible to recover when we have breached the trust of our followers.
It's important to guard positive momentum as leaders. There is nothing more difficult to regain than lost momentum. So protect it carefully!
Questions: Have you experienced a loss of momentum, either personally or professionally? Can you trace the cause of lost momentum to one of these 5?