Hey You … Leader, have you been idle for too long?

Have you stopped Leading?

Being in a leadership position or holding the title of leader is no guarantee we are leading. By definition, leading is a verb: an action word. It means we are taking people somewhere.

Because it is about action, leadership can be an exhaustive process. It can be draining, and sometimes we need a break.

For example, I try to shut down the smartphone at the end of the day & weekends, and I am not afraid to take extended vacations. I’m still the leader, but I need to recharge the batteries, and I need to develop the leaders who work for me by delegating them as Acting on my behalf. There are other times, such as accomplishing a major project, where I may intentionally “rest” from leading to catch my breath and rely on our management systems and structures to maintain us.

Be clear and purposeful about taking a rest from leadership, those times should be intentional, and they should be overly extended. In my experience, I get frustrated when I am away from leading for too long.


If my schedule and work plans a are void of any intentional leadership — if all I’m doing is managing current programs and systems — if we are in maintenance mode for too long — I know I’m in a rut, and it is time to be intentional about leadership.


How do you evaluate if you are leading or maintaining? One way is to look for the results.


Here are 7 indicators that you’re not leading anymore:

  1. Nothing is changing. Leadership is about something new. It’s about change. If nothing is changing — you can do that without a leader.
  1. Paradigms are not challenged. Many times the best change is a change of mindset — a way we think. Leaders are constantly learning so they can challenge the thinking “inside the box.”
  1. You’re not asking questions. A leader only knows what he or she knows, and many times the leader is the last to know. A great part of leadership is about discovery, and you only get answers if you ask questions.
  1. There are competing visions. Leaders point people to a vision. A crystal clear & singular vision. One of the surest ways to derail progress is to have multiple visions, as this divides energy & people and confuses instead of bringing clarity.
  1. No one is complaining. You can’t lead anything involving significant change where everyone agrees. A sure-fire measure if people are being driven is if people are complaining. In the Army, we knew there was a problem when the soldiers went quiet and weren’t griping.
  1. People aren’t being stretched. Understand well a leader should strive for clarity. But, when things are changing and challenging there will always be times of confusion. That’s when good leaders get even better at communicating and listening.
  1. People being “happy” has become the goal. Everyone likes to be liked. But, the end goal of leadership should be accomplishing a vision — not making sure everyone loves the leader. Progress hopefully makes most people happy, but when the goal begins with happiness, in my experience, no one is ever really made happy.