HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWays to overcome leadership or business stagnation

Ways to overcome leadership or business stagnation


A talk with a leader recently provoked me to write this article. He came into my office and said that his organisation was facing stagnation. This was one good example which might be representative of most businesses.


Most companies usually look great before the decline comes
Most companies usually look great before the decline comes

There are moments you feel, as a leader, you have done all within your reach to make the organisation move, but you are just on plateaux. There is nothing bad happening, profits are realised, but you feel business has become monotonous. What a does a leader do?

In the business cycle all organisations go through that situation. It’s a dangerous moment, especially in view of competition. While in that situation, someone might be coming fast at your back.

As a tradition, the leader might not be open to new possibilities of change. Because they won in the past using the same strategy, they still think they are going to win using the same old model.

This is an unpleasant reality; ideas seem to disappear and we float on pass laurels. The situation becomes dangerous to any leader or organisation that fails to re-invent itself.

Most companies usually look great before the decline comes. Your company might be at its crest now, but don’t lose sight of the future. Now let’s explore means to overcome stagnation:

The mirror effect

The first important thing as a leader is to look within. This is called the law of the mirror. Am I relevant? Have I grown over time? Where am I in my growth level? Am I committed to change? Is my team ready to progress? Are they well equipped to deal with impending change?

Take the mirror and face the wrinkles in your leadership. These questions point to the internal preparedness to realise growth; looking within. As a leader, your worst enemy is you.

Get out of your way and allow growth to prevail. For example, when I coach leaders, at times I am faced with the harsh reality from them thinking they know a lot, if not all things? As a result, they think everyone is a problem, but themselves. When being lead by such its very unfortunate because they ultimately become your capping to the success of a company.

The spiral approach

The success of any leadership is about shared responsibility or spiral to all corners in an organisation. As a CEO, let all other levels of management know and own the growth responsibility. Everyone plays a part if you are to move from this monopoly and stagnated stage into a growth stage. Spiral the word to every part of organisation.

The systematic approach

Develop a systematic approach so as to develop. What is a system? It’s an organised or structured ritual which glides even above strategy. It embedded into the leadership culture. It intertwines leadership, strategy, culture, resources, skills and people development to form a winning system. A systematic approach has all sectors in business getting engaged and involved in development and growth.

The centred approach

Focus is one crucial thing both for individuals and the organisation. Now that you are aware that your leadership or organisation is stagnant, all strings should pull towards one direction. Your resources should centre on growth. The company should shun small things and invest on core things that lead to growth. As a leader Identify talent to contribute towards this growth and invest in it.

The protective approach

As the leader or organisation ventures into new territories, the demands of the old setup could affect this new growth or the approach that you have set in motion. So what do we need to do? Protect the new project or talent from the demands of the old set up. It would be much better to use the old base to improve the new shift other than the way round. Protect new ideas from old ideas.

The learning approach

It has been said leaders are learners. Or learners are leaders. Learning should be the culture of an organisation and leadership.
Learning is inevitable. As we want to get out of the current stagnated situation, one thing that every leader should appreciate and embrace is the inevitability of mistakes. Allow mistakes to happen, as to encourage an inventive, innovative, creative or entrepreneurial mindset.

The attitudinal approach

Attitude is key to growth or organisational culture. As a leader what’s your attitude towards change? Do you see merging people or talent as a threat or benefit to growth? It’s all about attitude. The nature of my work, allows me to talk to leaders, in seminars and individually most of the time.

The real stoppage to growth is when the leader says or has an attitude which says, “This is how we have always done things!” It’s attitude. In essence what you might be saying or proposing won’t work here.

Ultimately, you discourage people to contribute their brilliant ideas. Your attitude should be that of trust. Trust your team players or subordinates to bring ideas. There is nothing that settles the employee’s heart than to feel trusted with responsibilities. They own growth and development it.

The celebration approach

In the book, First Break All The Rules (1999: 32), critical questions are raised:

“At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day? In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work? Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person? Is there someone at work who encourages my development? At work, do my opinions seem to count? In the last six months, has someone talked to me about my progress?”

These questions point towards appreciation or gratitude. I have been in the work industry for over fifteen years now, both for work and training workforce.

I have realised that the employees are talked to mainly when they have done something wrong. Leaders or managers are fast to pick on the darker spots than good things.

The golf approach

Leaders stay too long in their offices become even insensitive to the smell that is in their own offices. At times we become so accustomed to situations and we think that’s the way it is. You have to walk out of your office and have time to play golf.

This is where you will meet other leaders who have an outside perspective. This gives you a breather and affords you an opportunity to see things from outside. In meeting other leaders, you learn of new trends and opportunities to avoid stagnation.

The intuitive approach

There are times a thought crosses our minds and we blush or brash it aside. We only regret to see the same thought being implemented by someone and they excel. By the time you try to convince others that it was initially you intuitive idea, it will be too late. Most people have violated that inner small voice and they opt for the traditional voice.

Parting Point: Charles Stanley said that: “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation.

I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.”

Jonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach. He can be contacted on – Tel: 0772 581 918. Email:jonah@classicmail.co.za. Twitter@jonahnyoni.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading