How do some organizations end up being so insider focused and even indifferent to the people they’re trying to reach?
For example, are 90% of companies you phone for customer support really experiencing a higher than normal call volume, every single day no matter when you call…or did they just cut back staff and decide that you’d endure the wait?
It’s a surprising question to have to ask because whenever you launch something, your mission is always about the people you’re trying to reach and serve.
You launch to reach a city. You write to reach people with your words. You start because you want to make a difference in as many lives as possible, because the mission matters.
But over time, so many leaders and organizations stop caring about who they’re trying to reach and start thinking more about themselves.
So many companies, churches and organizations struggle with what you might call insideritis…a disease that makes you think you’re still on mission, when you’ve actually lost focus on anything that drives future growth.
Here are 7 signs your organization is suffering from insideritis.So many companies, churches and organizations struggle with what you might call insideritis...a disease that makes you think you're still on mission, when you've actually lost focus on anything that drives future growth. Click To Tweet
1. Your Passion Has Shifted From Reaching People To Pleasing People
When you start something, your passion is almost always for the person you haven’t yet reached.
But too many leaders focus on people they’re trying to keep and forget about the people they’re trying to reach.
Why? Because the people you’ve reached have opinions on everything.
And they let you know what they think.
When that happens and you lose focus on the mission, you become paralyzed by competing ideas about what’s right, what’s wrong and what should be different.
When your passion as a leader changes from reaching people to pleasing people, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The challenge is that there are zero objective standards.
The standard is whether people like it.When your passion as a leader changes from reaching people to pleasing people, that's a recipe for disaster. Click To Tweet
As a leader, you end up playing whack-a-mole because different people ‘like’ different things, and no one can agree on what they prefer.
In your attempt to please everyone, you please no one.
When your passion shifts from who you’re trying to reach to who you’re trying to please, it eventually evaporates all together and you lose passion for everything.When your passion shifts from who you're trying to reach to who you're trying to please, it eventually evaporates all together and you lose passion for everything. Click To Tweet
2. You’re Not Getting a Lot of Push Back
I know. This sounds like the opposite of the first point…that you’ve got so many people to please it’s exhausting.
But there’s a related problem with insideritis, which happens when you don’t get any push back.
No leader wakes up in the morning hoping to get push back, but push back does happen in a normal, healthy, growing organization.
It happens every time you push the boundaries and change. It happens every time new people come into the mix. It happens when you disrupt the status quo, which as a leader should be regularly.
The absence of push back sometimes means that the people you’ve reached have settled into a nice pattern of enjoying what you do. And when that happens, cue the death rattle. Decline is right around the corner.The absence of push back sometimes means that the people you've reached have settled into a nice pattern of enjoying what you do. And when that happens, cue the death rattle. Decline is right around the corner. Click To Tweet
3. You’re on Auto-Pilot
Starting something is almost always chaos; hopefully glorious chaos, but it’s still chaos.
After launch, smart leaders try desperately to implement systems. You need systems, otherwise, you won’t make it.
And, over time, your systems may work quite well. All of which makes you want to lock them in.
In fact, you can’t believe how well everything is running so you staff, build and shape everything around those systems.
None of this is bad, but I’ve seen far too many leaders leave it there. They go on auto-pilot.
And once you’re on auto-pilot, things get missed. No one notices that the cleaners missed wiping down the walls this week.
Or that the parking patterns that were set two years ago don’t make sense anymore because of growth or decline. Or that the same people are doing the same thing the same way every week and are losing passion.
So, get off auto-pilot. Look around. What’s working? What’s not? What’s broken? What do you need to disrupt?
Too many leaders, once they have a system in place, fly on auto-pilot directly into a mountain they missed because they weren’t paying attention. Theoretically, the system was.
Systems are designed to serve you, not save you. The mission saves the day. Every time.Systems are designed to serve you, not save you. The mission saves the day. Every time. Click To Tweet
4. Acronyms And Abbreviations Are Everywhere
I literally got an email this other day that said something like the AOBD is so glad to welcome BTE for our next WAITW.
What???? What on earth are you talking about?
They were also asking for money and all I could think of is “I’ll pay you to go away.”
Listen, I understand why people embrace abbreviations. I offer a number of online courses with long names like the High Impact Leader and The Art of Better Preaching. My team refers to them internally as HIL and AOBP when we Slack or email each other.
Yep, it saves keystrokes.
But unless you’re the NFL or NBA, which you’re not, never use abbreviations or insider-speak publicly.
And if you’re thinking, “well, everyone knows what BBQGINYDG means,” you’ve played right into the central problem of insideritis.
Perhaps the insiders do. But I don’t. Nor does anyone who’s new or not yet embedded in your culture.
Keep acronyms and abbreviations out of your public discourse if you want to reach the public.
Here’s what’s actually at stake: if someone has to learn code to join your organization, you likely won’t have many people joining.If someone has to learn code to join your organization, you likely won’t have many people joining. Click To Tweet
5. You’re Making Emotional Decisions
Leadership is tiring. I get it.
When you’re tired, it’s just too easy to make bad decisions, and bad decisions are usually emotional decisions.
You don’t have the energy to confront the low-performing team member so you decide to ignore it.
And you don’t really have the energy to cast vision for a new year, so you cruise through on fuzz or simple repeat old ideas.
Or, perhaps worse, you make decisions based on your personal preferences: it’s easier, you like it, you think it’s a good idea.
Never let your emotions matter more than the mission.Emotional decisions are usually bad decisions. Never let your emotions matter more than the mission. Click To Tweet
6. You Ignore Or Manipulate the Numbers
You know what most organizations who have drifted toward insiders struggle with? Simple: Growth. Or more precisely, a lack of it.
When things start to plateau or decline, it’s way too easy to ignore the numbers, manipulate them to say what they clearly don’t say, or replace the math you don’t like with anecdotes.
When the math doesn’t do what you hope it would do, many leaders start saying things like:
Oh, I talked to XYZ, and she said it was life-changing.
The people who come here like us a lot.
Hey, a LOT of organizations are struggling right now with numbers, so in light of that, I think we’re doing okay.
Nope. No you’re not doing okay. Unless you want to decline. Then things are just fine.
Look, I hate sluggish or declining numbers too. But I also know this: Ignoring the numbers you don’t like pretty much guarantees you’ll like the future numbers even less.Ignoring the numbers you don't like is pretty much a guarantee you'll like the future numbers even less. Click To Tweet
7. Innovation is Dead or On Life-Support
Most insider-focused organizations aren’t excited about the future, they’re afraid of it.
For the most part, insider-focused leadership clings stubbornly to the present or the past, preferring the way things are or the way things used to be over the way things could be.Most insider-focused organizations aren’t excited about the future, they’re afraid of it. Click To Tweet
As a result, innovation dies. New ideas get shot down. Anything that would reach people who currently aren’t being reached is viewed with suspicion or dismissed.
When you’re ruled by insideritis, innovation dies because people like things just the way they are, which usually means they like it smaller and smaller every year.
Sacrifice is non-existent. Innovation is dead or on life support.When you're ruled by insideritis, innovation dies because people like things just the way they are, which usually means they like it smaller and smaller every year. Click To Tweet
So…What Do You Do?
If you see any of these or other signs of insideritis, the best thing to do is to name it and start to take action.
Leaders are dealers in two things: Hope, and naming reality.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins said the chief job of leaders is to never lose hope AND name the reality they’re facing, no matter how brutal it is. He called it the Stockdale Paradox, quoting from POW Jim Stockdale:
You must never ever ever confuse, on the one hand, the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail despite those constraints with, on the other hand, the need for the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are.
I’ve seen far too many leaders stop casting clear and compelling vision and, at the same time, be unwilling to confront the brutal facts.
When you name reality for what it is and move people toward a better future, you make progress.You must never ever ever confuse, on the one hand, the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail despite those constraints with, on the other hand, the need for the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts,… Click To Tweet
One other thing you can do: PIVOT
What Do You Think?
Any other signs of insideritis you see?
And what are you doing to combat them?
Scroll down and leave a comment!