“It might look and seem beautiful and calm; there is a significant difference in ineffective leadership, lack of leadership, and leadership that is in stasis.”
Joe Thornell Sr.
All three leadership situations are damaging to the organization and the people. Ineffective leadership shows some attempt at leading, however for any number of reasons, there is an inability to make things happen. A lack of leadership is typically recognized as having the capability to lead but not doing anything effective for the organization or the people.
Leadership stasis is not doing anything effective as you lead the organization and allowing its reputation to be tarnished and potentially pushing it towards destruction. In my own mind, it is doing what you have always done, expecting what you have always gotten, and pressing forward like nothing can affect you.
This leadership reality can often be confused with the maintenance of the status quo when, in fact, the status quo accomplishes something of (limited) value for the organization even though it refuses to grow, adjust, or welcome inputs for change or improvement.
I recognize leadership stasis in organizations that are very comfortable, unaware of their surroundings, see a completely different reflection in their mirror, or perceive they are unaccountable to anyone or thing.
In this author’s opinion, an example of leadership stasis is the National Football League. They are clearly very comfortable with their league composition, annual revenues, and internal procedures of operation. This past year, we observed domestic abuse by the players, blatant disrespect for the country they exist in, and no stated policy or personnel changes to counter these activities going forward. This is leadership stasis: comfortable, see themselves differently than others do, unaware that domestic abuse and public disrespect are contrary to long-held American values, and believe they are unaccountable.
So, how does an organization break out of leadership stasis? I believe it requires an infusion of new leadership with a principal awareness that they are in a stasis condition and a mandate to fix their problems. This must be accompanied by a renewal of who their customers are and what is the reality of their environment. Often an organization cannot see they are in stasis due to their closely-held environment, failure to listen effectively, and oftentimes they enjoy a high degree of organizational hubris.
For the NFL, the cheese has moved with regards to social norms of player off-field antics, organizational discipline policies, and disrespect for the nation that you represent and its citizens who have funded your league across the years through ticket sales and merchandise purchases. In both examples and in any leadership stasis environment, acting sooner rather than later makes great excellent leadership sense.
With our hyper-drive-powered 21st century communications process, a highly accelerated and oftentimes overwhelming response comes at the organization and as we have seen recently and frequently, the effect on the stock price, balance sheet, board of directors, 2016 Presidential election, and replacement of the senior leadership team results in radical and sometimes catastrophic change/damage.
Strong, effective, and enduring organizations do not have leadership stasis issues and hopefully your organization does not either. The best way to keep this leadership malady from happening is to always remain humble, stay aligned to the core ethics, morals, and values of your organization and its surrounding environment, remain connected to your stakeholders, and constantly be aware of how you are perceived by others compared to how you see yourself in the mirror.
Are you doing these things in your organization to ensure leadership stasis never occurs? Now could be the right time to get inside and outside feedback/perspective to find out for sure. Stay strong.