The Murderous Nature of The Status Quo

Are you a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of leader? Do you believe in “leaving well enough alone?” Have you ever looked at your organization, your team or your processes and said confidently “we’re good, no need to reinvent the wheel?”

Consider that last statement for a moment. Imagine if the wheel really had never been reinvented. History tells us that the first wheels were apparently made from stone. They were as round as they could make them but I’ve yet to see an image of a perfectly round wheel from the days of the first wheels.

Think about a brand new shiny car with GPS and bluetooth and all the comforts of home… with stone wheels. I’ll bet that would do a number on the gas mileage, not to mention how it could kill the drive though business at Starbucks. Can you imagine trying to drink a hot cup of coffee while riding around on “almost” round stone wheels.

Now aren’t we glad that somebody ignored the advice and actually did reinvent the wheel!

Nothing kills progress like the status quo. Leaders who are satisfied with the “as is” will never experience the accomplishment of achieving the “should be.” Authentic leaders are constantly looking for a better way. Their goal isn’t necessarily perfection; it’s simply to be better tomorrow than they are today. It has nothing to do with how good they are, even the best are always striving to be better.

Being better tomorrow than you are today will require change. Improvement and growth requires that someone or something change. The reason that some leaders get comfortable with the status quo is that change also comes with risk and some leaders will do anything to avoid risk.

The problem is that businesses that attempt to avoid all risks likely avoid continued success at the same time. Leaders of any type of organization who are too risk adverse lose the opportunity to achieve all that they could.

In their attempt to avoid risk and keep everything just as it is they almost guarantee that what they have they won’t have for long. If you disagree with that then just travel to Canada and talk with the well-meaning team at Blackberry. Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion, is the perfect case study of an organization hanging on to the “as is” at the expense of the “should be.”

The world today allows no person and no organization seeking continued success to sit still.  A business satisfied with the status quo most likely has stakeholders that aren’t satisfied at all.

As a leader it is imperative that you know that if you’re not moving up then you’re most assuredly moving down.

The status quo is a murderer; it kills progress while providing the illusion of comfort and success. Don’t however, attempt to hold the status quo accountable for the death of your success, the status quo means no harm, death is just it’s nature.

Leaders who consort with the status quo and hold it dear, well now, their accountability for the death of success is a whole different matter.

What Leadership is Not

photoI am still surprised by the number of people who believe that Leadership and Management are essentially the same. They most certainly are not.

This is pretty general but I believe that if you are doing something for your business, new computers, new software, new copiers, etc. that is managing. It’s about stuff, processes and things.

I also believe that if you are doing it for your people, better training, better conditions, better coaching or developing better relationships, that’s leading. It’s about people. Leading is always about people.

It’s been said a million times in books, blogs and articles around the word that you manage things and you lead people. It’s been said millions of times because it is true.

I’ve never met a person who wanted to be managed. People do not commit to a manager, they comply with a manager. People make commitments to a leader and committed people do more things, they do them faster, they do them better and they do them more consistently.

Great organizations know they need great managers AND great leaders. Sometimes you’ll find a person who can excel at both but that seems to be getting rarer all the time.

But here’s the point, if you’re managing your people then don’t expect them to excel at anything. If you apply sound management principles to people they will perform up to their job description and not much more. They will do what needs to be done, they will comply. But know this, managing must be a constant for the compliance to remain. Once the manager is no longer present much of the compliance is no longer present either.

If you choose to really lead your people then they won’t be limited by a job description. People who are led are the ones who accomplish the impossible, people who are led are the ones that truly make an organization great. People who feel led do not need the physical presence of the leader to remain committed. Their unparalleled work ethic continues even in the absence of their leader.

So manage your business as you must; measure your progress, set your requirements and develop your plan. Managing your business will keep it stable and steady.

But if you’re looking for growth, innovation, market share and increased profitability then don’t manage your people, lead them. That’s the not so secret secret to success in today’s business environment.