10 Signs It's Time for a New Leader

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When I see a company or team in distress, my question is always "Why is it so hard to tackle the obvious?"... or as the old cliche goes... "Why is no one talking about the big elephant in the room... the elephant that is so big that we can't even see the elephant anymore... we are standing in the room and see that the room has become fuzzy... crowded... dingy, but the elephant has gotten so big that it's shape has disappeared into a big blob of grey?"

My answer is this... the company has become comfortable with mediocrity... things have always done a certain way, so there goes the mindset... into the ditch:

1. Eh... performance is okay... it could be better, but it's fine.

2. No need to change... it's too hard, too time consuming and way too costly... let's just focus on the status quo.

3. We do things around here "this way" and this has worked for decades... our approach is doing a "fine job".

4. I don't like these people on this team or who work for this company anyway... let's just stay in mediocrity, and maybe they'll just "go away".

When I hear this, I usually start digging a bit deeper... to find that

  • the same people are in the same positions they were 10 years ago
  • the same practices are being implemented that were applied 30 years ago (which are usually practices that came out of the 1950's and 1960's)
  • the same things are being measured which are now obsolete... why are you measuring things that no longer matter?
  • the leaders at the top are clueless about what the competition is really doing in the year 2010... things they could be doing to become a world class organization

If you are a leader, and you are reading this article, it is going to take balls to make a change... a change in yourself or a radical move to step up to the plate and admit that "I cannot change, and it is time to move on." There is a 99% chance that you, yourself, will not feel like you need the change... if you are a person who lives in mediocrity, you are probably very comfortable getting up every day and rolling out of bed on the very same way on the same side, drinking coffee out of your same mug, showering with a bar of old soap, putting on the same old clothes, eating the same food for breakfast, backing out your driveway the same way and driving the same old route to work. The only way you are going to truly know if it is time to move on is to look at your team and people to see if these 10 signs are evident. And... this might take bringing in someone from the outside to look at your team to see if they will HONESTLY answer these questions. Most stuck people don't think they're stuck... they think the rest of the world is crazy:


1. Your team is bored. They look bored, have scowls on their faces and they drag in the door as if they have a ball and chain wrapped around their ankle.

2. Your team is not only growing and progressing... they are actually getting worse at their jobs. Their talents are actually turning into their biggest weaknesses.

3. Your team has lost their passion. They just don't have the fire in their eyes... they look flat.

4. Sick leave, tardiness and skipping out on projects early are on the rise. When people love their leader and your company is thriving, they not only show up but they show up on time and they stay late because they love what they are doing.

5. No one is recruiting you OR your team members. Remember the time when you were actively desired by others? Those days are over. Remember the time when you were worried that your rock stars would be recruited away? No need to worry about that one. No one is looking at them, because you have taken them from rock star to rock-star wannabees.

6. Clients, investors and competitors are gossiping about your lack of leadership. You may not know it, but your employees do. It's a very small world. With the internet, people are probably blogging about you too.

7. Your superstars are no longer talking about their big plans for a great future career. They're becoming stuck in a rut just like you are... you are the leader, and they are following your model of mediocre leadership.

8. Your superstars are NO LONGER complaining... for a while, they had great ideas on how the company could improve and they may have been complaining a pinch, but they now know that their voice is falling on deaf ears, so why bother. The saddest part of this is that they know you don't give a damn.

9. Your team begins to make uncharacteristically careless errors... you don't care, so why should they? But of course, you are probably blaming them and taking NO personal responsibility.

10. The element of fun is gone... zapped, and of course, people who once came around for the fun and to celebrate success (like big investors) are moving on. They have no interest in hanging around a leader or a company that is losing, and they are moving on to the winners' circles.

Okay... I've given the bad news, so the solution... get someone into your company, perform a very rigorous 360 degree review process and give your leader 6 months to change or it's time to bring in new blood.

Bea Fields is an Executive Coach and the President of Bea Fields Companies, Inc. ( http://BeaFields.com ). She is an Executive Coach and the Chief Principal of Five Star Leader Coaching and Training. Along with Corey Blake and Eva Silva, she is the author of Edge: A Leadership Story ( http://edge-book.com ). Fields' company serves over 1000 international clients and has developed over 25 business and leadership development training programs.

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