The word disease in humans often refers to any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, or social problems. It can also be used to reference injuries, disabilities, syndromes, and disorders.
Diseases are usually diagnosed through tests because a person has some symptoms or signs that give clues to a possible disease could exist. A good doctor with experience can listen to a patient and conduct the necessary tests and exams to determine if they have a certain disease or some other abnormality.
Unfortunately, some diseases are not curable, however a large majority are. Modern medicine has made this possible. It just requires a person to be aware of themselves and their body.
What about the diseases that I see in business, in companies, and in leadership on a daily basis that are curable as well? Many of these leaders and companies are not aware of the symptoms and signs, so they are not even thinking they have a disease.
Instead they have their head buried in the sand, or they sit in their offices all day. They don’t realize the impact that these diseases are having on their business and the people in their company.
Many leaders are so unaware of the signs and symptoms that these diseases exist. Instead these diseases are causing adverse effects on the people within the company and the company itself from realizing its full potential.
Here are the eight diseases that I see in business and leaders that can be cured.
Indecision: The inability to make a decision.
Have you ever been paralyzed by a decision that you need to make and delayed it. In some cases you delayed so long that it didn’t have the result you had hoped, because you waited too long. It could be a decision to change careers, buy this home over another home, implement this new process or not, promote this employee over another, etc.
Second question: After you finally made the decision. Did you say to yourself “I took the right amount of time to make that decision?” Speaking from experience as I look at most of the significant decisions I have made in my life, the chances are I delayed making the decision longer than I should have.
In most cases, the decisions that were most positive that I eventually made, I never said I took the right amount of time to make those decisions. I would say that I wish I would have made the decision sooner in almost all decisions that have been of significance.
As a leader what is the impact on your company and your people by not making a decision?
Indifference: The lack of interest or concern.
As a leader you have to be interested. If you aren’t interested, then we know you aren’t leading. You have to be interested in people and your business. I have heard leaders and people say they don’t care and therefore they don’t have an opinion. This is not leading. If you are leading your life, or if you are leading others, you have to be interested. You can’t have a ho-hum, it will be what it will be attitude. Nope, you have to be all in and your action must show that you are all in.
Indifference is a disease, it will eat away at you over time and will cause you to just exist and not make your presence known. Leaders of people can’t be indifferent, you have to be concerned and you have to be interested.
Inaction: Staying still and not moving things forward.
I am sure you are no different from me and have had a sickly feeling where you just didn’t feel like doing something. Maybe your stomach hurt a little, not so painful that you were bent over, just a little achy. Or maybe it was a headache, that could be caused by seasonal allergies, or just a little stress. Again, you are not dying or anything you just don’t feel well.
I have had that feeling many times and without a doubt when I get up and start moving I feel so much better. I get involved in something and almost forget that I even felt bad.
This same feeling happens to people and companies as well. When a leader isn’t moving things forward and action is taking place, people get lethargic and can even fall sick. Leaders realize that inaction can kill success and any momentum they might have and they act.
Insanity: Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.
The most common definition we use for insanity in business it the one I used. And it is a disease that has taken its toll on many leaders and many companies. In Charles Duhiggs book “The Power of Habit.” he states that 70% of the things we do everyday are driven by our habits. Meaning we don’t even have to think about doing them. Our minds do them automatically. Kind of scary isn’t it.
If this is the case in our life, what about our business? What are the things we are dong over and over, because that is just the way we do them?
Leaders have to stop the insanity and look for new ways of doing things to get different results. There is an old saying: “If we keep doing what we have always done, we will get what we have always gotten.”
I believe that is false now. I believe that “If you keep doing what you have always done, you won’t get what you have always gotten, you will get less, and in many cases a lot less.”
Insecure: Lacking self-confidence
If you show me an insecure leader, I will show you a leader that is failing or about to fail. Insecurity is an internal problem. Let me give you an example. As a leader if you can’t realize that you are not competing with the people on your team on how good you look or how much authority you command, then you are insecure.
Leaders must be secure in their jobs and their own skin to allow others to take credit for what they have done. Leadership is not taking credit, it is not showing your authority, leadership is getting the right people for the job and allowing them to look like the hero.
If you are in a leadership position, and you can’t take a back seat when things go well and allow others to have some of the credit, then you should not be a leader.
Indirect: Not saying it clearly and to the point.
I once had a leader tell me that they were so nice to people that when they conducted a termination, the employee came back to work the next day thinking they still had a job. I know you are currently thinking, how dumb are they (the leader).
The point is that this leader was trying to be so nice that they beat around the bush and the message that needed to be communicated did not get communicated.
How often does this happen in business though? Instead of being direct and getting the message across, a leader instead tries to massage it, and by doing so it has unintended consequences. One of my favorite quotes of all time is “To be unclear is to be unkind.”
Look at the example I shared about the leader not clearly communicating to the employee that they were terminated. How unkind was it when that employed show up the next day at work. Sad. Direct is better.
Inefficient: Wasting or failing to make the best use of time or resources.
Working in a fairly large business for the last twelve years of my career. I have realized the inefficiencies a company and leaders can create. This costs the company money and they also cause a lack of motivation from its employees, which also costs a lot of money.
Smart people don’t want to be jacked around or manipulated. They want to know what it is that needs to be done, and they will go out and do it. When leaders suggest to employees that they should invest their time and resources into a project, a concept, a task, and the employee does so. Once they come back around and make recommendations based on what it is they learned by investing their time and resources. Good employees don’t want to find out that this was not something that was that important or something that is going to be considered be the company.
When this happens the leaders not only wasted the company’s time and resources by having the employee do that work, but they also just told the employee that they don’t value their time, as evident with allowing them to waste their time pursuing a project that wasn’t even being considered.
Insensitive: Showing or feeling no concern for others’ feelings.
You might be saying to yourself how can you be not “Indirect” as well as telling us that leaders need to be more sensitive to its employees. Here is what I say to that:
I can be direct and still have feelings. I can be direct and still care. When it is time to be direct with someone, the sensitivity should have already been established. If it is hasn’t it is too late.
Each and every day as a leader you are making deposits with your team and people within your company, these deposits should display that you are sensitive to their needs and you are aware of their contributions and existence. The likelihood of having to be really direct and challenging to someone on a daily basis is probably very slim. Business just doesn’t work that way. However, you do have to be sensitive and aware on a daily basis and the good leaders realize that and make it a point to demonstrate it daily.
Many diseases are curable. Many diseases if treated can be eliminated. Not all, but most. The above diseases can be cured in all cases. How do you cure them?
By doing the following leaders can start to cure them if they exist.
Realize: Are we realizing our full potential or are we missing the mark on what we are capable of as a company or as an individual leader.
Then: You have to become aware of the symptoms and signs. Maybe that can be done by someone internally, but more than likely you need someone from he outside, a specialist ( a doctor), to take a look at your company to see if these symptoms and signs exist. When you have gotten used to the symptoms and signs, they just become normal to you, having someone else look at them is the only way.
Secondly: Are you committed to eliminating the diseases? What does it take and am I willing to do it? My hope would be that the answers to these questions would be yes.
Lastly: Make the commitment and do it. It will require coaching. It will require a shift in thinking. It will require training and development. And lastly, it may require a change in some of the leaders in your organization.
We all know that when a disease is not treated that it can spread and spread. The best way to eliminate a disease is to diagnose it and treat it immediately before it has the chance to spread. That is the same way you treat these IN’s within your company. You identify it and you treat it.
To your success and your future.
Brian Willett is an author, trainer and speaker. You can find more articles and resources at brianwillettgroup.com