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5 Signs You May Be Losing Your Edge As A Leader

Are you losing your edge as a leader?

And if you are, how would you even know?

I’ve asked myself these questions more than once, and I think if you stick around in leadership for long, you have to ask them.

I have a theory that everyone needs to renew their leadership every 7-10 years or you grow stagnant (you can read about the theory here).  If you don’t renew yourself, you stagnate. And if you stagnate, you’re really not leading.

Far too many hold the title of leader long after they’ve truly stopped leading. And that’s not good for anyone, including the leader.

So how do you know if you’re starting to stagnate? If you’re losing your edge?

Here are 5 signs I’ve watched for in myself and seen in other leaders.

Far too many hold the title of leader long after they've truly stopped leading. Click To Tweet

1. You have the same conversations over and over again

I get that leadership is complex and that some decisions take time.

But too many times I’ve journeyed with a leader who was talking about hiring more staff in March, and they’re still talking about it in October.

Pick your issue: whether it’s launching a new location, starting a podcast, letting someone go, or taking a break…if you’re talking about it for months on end and doing nothing about it, nobody wins.

Ineffective leaders use talk as a substitute for action. Talking about it is no substitute for doing it.

And if you’re waiting for certainty, you’ll wait forever.

Ineffective leaders use talk as a substitute for action. Talking about it is no substitute for doing it. Click To Tweet

Want to break the cycle?

Easy. Do something. Even if all you do today is cross something off your list.

You have enough information to clear far more off your list than you think.

Stop talking. Start doing.

You have enough information to clear far more off your list than you think. Stop talking. Start doing. Click To Tweet

2. It takes you a long time to make a decision

I understand that some things should take time before you act.

But just because some things should take time and consideration doesn’t mean everything should take a long time to get done.

One sure sign that you and your organization are on a path toward stagnation or decline is that nothing gets done quickly. The timeline just keeps getting longer, and longer, and longer.

Think back to when you started in leadership and measure the distance between idea and execution. Compare that to your present pace.

I’m always amazed at how quickly things get done when my team and I have energy. If you’re measuring action in months or years, it’s a sign you’re losing your edge.

You can use size or complexity as an excuse, but that’s still an excuse. And just because some decisions take a long time doesn’t mean every decision should take a long time.

I recently had a staff member leave. It was a tough position to fill. We filled the position with an eminently qualified person in three weeks.

We’re currently developing a new online course that will go from idea to launch in 16 weeks. (idea, creation, filming, and launch).

Sure, not every project is that fast or should be that fast, but if you can’t move that fast or won’t move that fast, pay attention.

What other information do you need?

Why are you delaying?

How will things be different if you wait another week or month?

If you can’t come up with really compelling answers to those questions, then act.

Leaders at the top of their game are agile, nimble and can make quick decisions.

Diminished agility is diminished ability.

Diminished agility is diminished ability. Click To Tweet

3. You’re running out of ideas

It’s a leader’s job to forge into the future and to do that, you need a steady stream of fresh ideas and perspectives.

New thinking leads to new possibilities and new tomorrows.

Usually, when you’re starting out in leadership or in a good season in your leadership, you have more ideas than you know what to do with.

One sign you’re losing your edge is that those ideas are running dry.

There are usually three reasons you’re running out of ideas.

Sometimes your lack of ideas happens because you’re so busy working in your business that you don’t have time to work on your business. There’s just no margin. You can’t breathe, and as a result, you’re not really thinking.

A second reason your idea well is running low is because you’ve stopped reading books, listening to podcasts or attending conferences. Essentially, you’ve become all output with almost no input.

A final reason your ideas are in short supply is that you’ve entered an echo chamber, surrounding yourselves with like-minded leaders who believe what you believe, think the way you think and who never challenge your ideas.

So…if you want to turn this around, create a little more margin (here’s how), listen and learn again, and jump out of your echo chamber to listen to some fresh voices.

Leaders who learn better are leaders who lead better.

Leaders who learn better are leaders who lead better. Click To Tweet

4. You’re not asking enough questions

There’s a constant temptation in leadership to feel like you need to know all the answers.

That’s never true. In fact, the best leaders are usually not defined by the answers they give but by the questions they ask. The longer you’re in leadership, the more curious you should become.

The best leaders are usually not defined by the answers they give but by the questions they ask. The longer you're in leadership, the more curious you should become. Click To Tweet

One tell-tale sign of a leader who has lost their edge is they ask almost no questions. Sometimes that’s because you think you know all the answers (cue buzzer here). Other times, it’s because you’ve lost interest. You’re just not curious.

Both are deadly to leadership.

So…next time you’re in a conversation or meeting, speak more sentences that end with a question mark than you do sentences that end with a period.

The best leaders are usually not defined by the answers they give but by the questions they ask. Click To Tweet

5. You’re growing defensive

The best leader is an open leader. And the opposite of open is defensive.

Defensive leaders almost never lead well.

Being defensive means you close yourself off to new ideas, fend off all attempts to help you get better, and dismiss new ideas and directions.

You know how you know that you’re being defensive?

You have a reason why every new idea won’t work. And you have a reason you are the way you are.

A regular stream of defensiveness not only shuts down the people around you (they’ll eventually stop talking to you), it shuts down the future.

A regular stream of defensiveness not only shuts down the people around you (they'll eventually stop talking to you), it shuts down the future. Click To Tweet

How do you combat defensiveness?

Simple: next time someone shares an idea with you or feedback with you that you’re tempted to deflect or dismiss, don’t. Instead, utter two words: thank you.

Then go away and reflect on it, pray about it and even cry about it if you have to. Go see a therapist. Whatever you need to do to stop shutting down the people around you, do it.

Open leaders usually have a bright future. Defensive leaders don’t.

Open leaders usually have a bright future. Defensive leaders don't. Click To Tweet

Ready to Open Up Your Future? 

So maybe you’re one of the leaders who’s so busy working in your business that you don’t have time to work on your business. There’s just no margin. You can’t breathe, and as a result, you’re not really thinking.

Ready to change that?

I can help. I’ve helped over 3000 leaders free up hundreds of hours each year and often 3 hours a day to do what they feel they never have time for.

My High Impact Leader course, is my online, on-demand course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

It’s perfect for leaders who feel like they never have enough time in the day to get it all done.

Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day.  That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.

Here are what some alumni are saying about The High Impact Leader Course”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing the course again. It has absolutely made an impact in my life and family already that I can’t even describe.” – Joel Rowland, Clayton County, North Carolina

“Just wow.  Thank you, thank you.” Dave Campbell,  Sioux Falls South Dakota

A game-changer.” Pam Perkins,  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?

Click here to learn more or get instant access.

Any Signs You See?

When you see others losing their edge, or you see it in yourself, what are the signs you notice?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

3 Comments

  1. Karene Tuuainafua Levi on September 24, 2019 at 4:33 am

    I dnt understand because my English no good that why im not answer back .

  2. John Beeson on September 23, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for pricking my conscience, Carey! My decision-making is slowing down and I need to re calibrate My leadership to create an organizational preference for action.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 23, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Glad to help you grow!

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