30th September 2022 | Written by

Discover the 3 Reasons Your Leadership Team Is Afraid to Challenge the Status Quo

Your leadership team has great ideas and important questions, some of which can turn into impactful gains in performance and revenue. Unfortunately, many of these great ideas are suppressed and never reach a level beyond the initial thought. 

Why are so many great ideas being left behind?

It comes down to the pressure to preserve the status quo and the discomfort associated with breaking the mold. It feels safer for leadership to stay in their lane rather than pushing hard and unleashing their creative potential.

These three big things are holding your team back. With a few simple changes, your leadership will be more productive and your company will grow and scale like never before.

Reason #1 – Fear of Failure

While your leadership team is holding back great ideas, not every fresh take is going to be a winner. This creates an insecurity rooted in the fear of failure. 

They’re thinking, “What if I speak up and it’s a bad idea? What if I fail at this?”

The fear of failure and fear of being held accountable for that failure is a common reason leadership members refuse to challenge the status quo. There’s an associated risk that they relate with having negative effects on their careers and personal images.

The Solution – Practice Rigorous Authenticity

It’s time to normalize and embrace vulnerability. This requires that YOU lead the way and start communicating authentically with your team. You must show your own vulnerabilities to break the cycle.

Start by proposing a change to the processes that are no longer valuable to your team. Weekly executive meetings that are no longer productive are a prime example.  

Engage your team and say something along these lines:

Hey team, I’m scared to make such a big change around our weekly status meetings, but I don’t think it’s a good use of everyone’s time each Monday. We spend 10 hours collectively in this meeting and I want to see if canceling it and taking that time back helps us reach our goals. I’m not sure if this will help but let’s try it!

Now, you have taken the lead to break the status quo and try something different. You showed authenticity and everyone on your team now has the time to focus on reaching bigger goals.

Quick Tip: Estimate the true cost of meetings with this handy calculator

Reason #2 – Fear of Risking Relationships and Reputation

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing against established processes can come with real backlash. It’s uncomfortable work and the fear of disrupting relationships and risking your reputation is a big reason leadership members fail to challenge the status quo.

We know the work environment, our peers, and what may happen if we speak up. Anticipating negative consequences prevents us from speaking up and sharing unique perspectives. 

I like to tell people, “99-percent of the worst things that happen to us, only happen in our heads.” In most cases, only a tiny fragment of the imagined backlash actually comes to fruition. It’s actually more likely that your team will hear you out.

The Solution – Surrender the Outcome

Accept the reality that some things are outside of your control. You can’t control other people’s feelings, reactions, and thoughts. You can’t control how anyone will react to your pursuit of big goals and higher performance.

Focus on the things YOU CAN control.

Focus on your words and actions. 

Focus on being authentic and dedicated to results.

Communicate openly and share the changes you’re making while encouraging others to share their perspectives.

There’s an incredible feeling of freedom when you break down the barriers holding back your unique perspectives.

Lastly, be open to feedback and criticism. Embrace the positive and negative feedback, and use it to energize your new leadership trajectory. Trying to manage perceptions is unproductive. Take the feedback and grab anything useful to keep moving forward with strategies that benefit the entire organization.

Reason #3 – They Don’t Know Where to Start

Big changes start with a series of small actions. Change doesn’t happen all at once. Getting started is easy once you make the commitment. A significant portion of that commitment is the mental dedication to making changes, and the rest requires disciplined and consistent actions in your everyday leadership role.

BUT…somebody has to go first (Read – Company Culture Starts with the CEO). 

As a leader in your company, you have the power to trigger complete organizational shifts. Lead by example and GO FIRST to realize positive changes in your entire leadership team. 

The Solution – Do Uncomfortable Work 

Making changes at work and in your life feels uncomfortable at first. Doing Uncomfortable Work is an absolute necessity to implementing change and growing as a leader.

Get started by Saying No to these four things:

  • Say No to poor performance
  • Say No to ambiguity in tasks and projects
  • Say No to unnecessary meetings and tasks
  • Say No to spending too much time on strategies that won’t move you forward

And repeat it every day. 

When you lead by example and do the Uncomfortable Work, you are also creating a safe environment for others to challenge the status quo and be innovative in their approach to problem solving. 

With a few simple changes based on these three things, you can beat the status quo and lead your team to reach higher goals. 

Are you ready to challenge the status quo? Join the revolutionary leaders from Google, Dell, Global Payments, and the State of Colorado – start by taking this simple assessment.