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7 Signs You’re Suffering From Insideritis

insideritis

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 forgetting 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, the challenge is that there are zero objective standards. The standard is whether people like it. 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.

When?

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. My latest course, The High Impact Workplace, got abbreviated by the team to HIW within minutes of choosing a name for the course.

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.

Absolutely.

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

Inspire Your Team (And Yourself)

The High Impact Workplace

If you’re looking for a practical step to overcoming the obstacles you face in leadership, I have a new course out that may be just what you’re looking for.

 

The High Impact Workplace is a new online, on-demand course where I show you what’s changing in the workplace and how to respond. As a founder and senior leader myself, I’ll share a strategy that will help you engage even the best and most gifted young leaders at work. 

In the course, I’ll give you the exact strategies you need to:

  • Attract and keep high capacity leaders who would otherwise start their own businesses. 
  • Identify and leverage the currency that motivates young leaders.
  • Navigate flexible work arrangements that result in deeper productivity. 
  • Master the 5 questions every great manager asks their team for deeper engagement. 
  • Discover how to create workplace environments that multiple generations can thrive in. 
  • Learn how to keep your company or organization relevant to the next generation of leaders.

There’s a talent war going on for the best leaders, a generational divide at work, and, according to Gallup, 70% of all workers are disengaged at work (meaning that they show up and only do the bare minimum.) 

The High Impact Workplace will give you the edge you need to create the best team you can to move forward in an age where 8-4 doesn’t work anymore (just ask any young leader about that).

Enrollment to the course is only open for a few days and only available now at this low price. So hurry! 

To learn more or get access today to the High Impact Workplace, click here.

More Practical Leadership Help

As I mentioned earlier, I have three other courses that have helped thousands of leaders develop their skills so they can thrive in life and leadership.

The High Impact Leader is designed to help you get up to 1000 more productive hours a year back by getting time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

The Art of Better Preaching is a course designed to help you become a better communicator and teaches you skills on everything from how to connect with your audience to how to give a talk without using notes.

The Church Growth Masterclass has my best insights and strategies  on overcoming the cultural and structural barriers your church needs to overcome to reach more people, including how to break the 200, 500 and 1000 attendance barrier, something 98% of churches never do.

All courses are on-demand.

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!

11 Comments

  1. Brian on December 2, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Carey,

    Our church grew to over 1000 in multiple campus by focusing on the people inside. We took great care of the saints and they invited people. However, even though we say we are community focused, I get nervous by the old question, “If your church disappeared, would the community notice?” Besides our people and a yearly service in the park, sadly no. Perhaps we have been so insider focused that what got us here will no longer get us there. Advice on making the switch?

  2. Jay Guptill on November 21, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Fantastic points. Good stuff. Would this be available in print form or maybe I am just missing a button to push (ha). Thanks

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 22, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Hey Jay,

      Sadly no, but I always just highlight the body of the post and copy it into a word doc and print that. Usually, all you have to do is delete the “Click-to-tweet” portions and it works great.

      Hope this helps!

      Carey

  3. Nate on November 21, 2019 at 12:04 am

    In my experience, number one is a far worse issue than most of us want to deal with. People pleasing typically is a result of people thinking they “own” something and usually they have some sort of leverage over your church or organization.

    People who must be appeased in order to continue giving, volunteering, etc. are unhealthy, toxic, and immature. And typically, the church shouldn’t tolerate this behavior. But it’s so difficult to move on from them.

    What advice do you have to help move on from the mindset of people pleasing? And how do you tactfully approach those immature people who must be consistently pleased?

  4. Ben E on November 18, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Carey,
    Last night I was scrolling through my twitter feed and realized better than half my tweets from the last two years are clipped from your blog. I practiced restraint today, because I wanted to tweet every point you make. Wow, such good stuff. The clarity of how to look at our organization and where its truly at is sometimes lost when we’re deep “in the weeds.” Thank you!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Ha ha. Ben…love it. Glad it’s helping!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 19, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      Ben,

      So glad that we continue to produce helpful content for you.

      Could I share your comment on social? Always encouraging to see this.

      Carey

      • Ben Eige on November 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm

        Sure thing! Then of course I have to retweet some of your content again!

  5. Dan on November 18, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I run a business, and have been an entrepreneur / self-employed most of my life, other than 10 years in the military (which is a bastion of both great as well as incompetent leadership). This particular post is one of the best written that I have ever seen on the subject of management and leadership. I had actually never heard Stockdale’s quote before, though obviously am very familiar with his biography, being well versed in politics and military topics, as well as business, so I greatly appreciate the time and effort you took to write such a succinct post on these matters. I learn something new most every day! I trust that everyone who reads it will benefit as well. Cheers!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      Dan,

      Wow, thank you for your kind words. I am so glad you found this helpful.

      I’ll keep them coming.

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