Why Leaders Stop Growing

One question that has always intrigued me is, “Why do leaders stop growing?”

You see it all the time. A leader builds up an incredible organization and accomplishes great things, only to have it fizzle and die later down the road. What happens to them? Why do leaders struggle to find continued success? If you study the stories of leaders who stopped growing and then faded out, they often demonstrate one or more of the following characteristics:

1) They think they’ve arrived. 

Some leaders experience a small degree of success and believe they’ve reached the top. They have their accomplishments, start taking it easy and then eventually become as relevant as the video store. 

2) They rely on what they did in the past. 

It’s surprising how many leaders try to guide their teams into the future by relying on what worked decades ago. Doing what you’ve always done won’t produce results you haven’t yet experienced. Leaders who rely on past strategies have already seen their best days ahead. 

3) They serve a position and not a constituency. 

The Peter Principle states that “people will be promoted until they reach their level of incompetence.” When this happens, leaders rely on their titles rather than their skills to guide their teams. Leaders should be selected based on their effectiveness and influence because an organization will never outperform its leader. If you have inefficient and ineffective leaders, you’ll have an organization that squanders its resources and eventually fails. 

4) They think the organization exists to serve them.

Unethical leaders often view their organizations as a means to an end. They misuse resources for their own good. They take advantage of the flexibility built into the schedule. They use their platforms to elicit personal favors. Leaders who are always looking for what’s in it for them will never guide an organization toward its best days. 

These are all issues that every leader will face at some point during their leadership. The trick is to be on the lookout for these habits and tendencies. Recognize when they’re affecting your leadership and take action to stamp them out. As a leader, you’re either growing and changing or you’re not.