Is it time to stop doing what you are doing?

We have all either been there, or have seen someone or a situation occurring in front of us that isn’t working out. Perhaps it’s crystal clear to us, and for the person or the people involved in the situation. Despite this, the less than desirable situation continues to play out without any signs of it stopping. Or, the possibility of it changing. In either of these scenarios, there comes a time when someone else either needs to intervene, or the person or group needs to ask for help. 

Asking for help can be difficult. Especially when the factors of pride, stubbornness, ignorance or complacency is involved. However, these are some of reasons which contribute to a situation which can go from good to bad quickly. Often when the situation takes on the trajectory of heading into the “bad” zone, it might hover there for a period of time. This can be despite others attempting to intervene and to help.

Yes, it can be enormously frustrating seeing either a person or a group of people continuing to do something which isn’t working for them. Imagine how it must feel for some of them if they realize they are in a scenario which seems to present itself as a “Ground Hog Day”, when every day is exactly the same. Worse, is that it isn’t the type of day you want it to be, but you or the team feels powerless to change what is happening. In this team situation , either one person or a few people will need to address the fact and admit it isn’t going well, and that they want it to change. 

Change is a concept which most people have a more difficult time embracing. Yet, it can be exactly what needs to happen. When change needs to be introduced into a situation which isn’t working, the steps to do this don’t always provide an overnight solution. Although there are instances when they can have a desired effect to begin the process of what I refer to as a “course correction”. My definition of a “course correction” is taking a retrospective look at a current situation and then coming up with ways to introduce changes which will have a positive outcome. An outcome that the leader and team initially intended to pursue and experience. 

Fear of change, having the courage to admit you don’t have all of the answers and becoming stuck is something I regularly see happen with leaders and their teams from a performance perspective. It’s not only hard to watch it play out, it is even more difficult to wait to see at what point will be the right point to intervene. Or, to allow the leader or the team to get to the point just before they are heading to being in an unrecoverable situation. Being a consummate optimist, I rarely think a situation is unrecoverable, but occasionally there are instances of this. 

Over time I have learned to recognize the signs of when a leader or team is heading towards a place they may not want to be going. It isn’t always obvious this is happening, but there are signs. The signs you or someone else will need to be on the lookout for whether they are being leveraged, include factors such as whether emotional intelligence is being applied, being able to interpret and understanding body language, having the ability to read and know the leader or teams energy level and how to impact them are some of the underlying signs and behaviors that are often so subtle, they are very difficult to see. These are also some of the behaviors which collectively are contributing to the dysfunction of the situation or team. 

I’ll often talk to people about how as a “Caption Obvious” statement, that no one wants to be on either a losing or dysfunctional team. Each of these type of teams and those that lead them are certainly not desirable, but it doesn’t mean they have to continue to be that way. Most of the time, if they continue to be that way, as I noted above, some type of intervention will occur. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are instances when an intervention doesn’t occur, and this is equivalent to the analogy of the captain going down  at sea with their ship. Perhaps this could be looked at as self-sacrificing, but the outcome generally isn’t desirable. When a leader takes the position of either being the “scape goat” or is trying to fix everything themselves, both of these scenarios never result in being favorable for anyone involved. Why? Because one person does not equal a team.

Let’s circle back to having some type of intervention or course correction injected into a scenario which calls for whatever is occurring to stop happening. In this situation some initial actions need to occur. The first is to admit what either the leader or the team has been doing isn’t working. The second step is to embrace the need to do something different, and the third and fourth steps are to ask for help, and to finally commit to doing something different. Doing something different doesn’t mean it will need to be radically different, although it might need to be. However, it could be moving towards introducing a series of steps to apply the course correction needed to alter the current direction which isn’t working. 

In addition to the steps I noted above to apply to help you or your team stop doing what isn’t working for you collectively, below are some suggestions of other options you can consider.

  • Start with evaluating your mindset. Is it open enough to be willing to consider doing something differently than you are currently doing which has contributed to the situation you as a leader, or your team are in?
  • Is there someone you know that has been in your situation? If so, consider reaching out to them and ask them if they would be willing to provide you with their own ideas about how they stopped doing what wasn’t working, and tried something else which produced the results they were looking for. 
  • If you are the leader, what are the factors which contributed to having you been in the less than desirable situation you or your team are in? Without placing blame on others, what are the factors you may have been contributing to your negative scenario?
  • Sometimes leaders and teams are not set-up for success. This doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. It simply is an early warning indicator that either the leader, members of the team or a combination will need to agree they will need to determine what the factors are which could be brought in to help them to be successful. This will require a high level of collaboration and trust, and if the leader or team is struggling, this is going to present an enormous challenge, but it isn’t one that can’t be overcome. It will take both time and patience, and no, there isn’t an overnight solution.
  • Sometimes others who have nothing to do with your situation, or who are not close to your less than desirable scenario, will have clear insights into solutions which can be applied to help you. Do you know someone or a few people who might be able to offer you their valuable insights?
  • Consider if the situation you are in is a reoccurring pattern or behavior. If it is, do you have the ability to be reflective enough to see what is contributing to it? If you do, are there instances when you are heading towards doing something you should stop doing when you can prevent yourself from continuing to be on this less than desirable path?
  • Although others may not agree, I do believe that hope can be a strategy, and that it is needed in circumstances that seem hopeless. So, if a leader or their team has even the slightest bit of hope their circumstances can be different, this can be the catalyst required to positively change the direction they are currently heading. 

Leaders and their teams are oriented towards being successful. However, there are times when they are not, but this doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be successful under a different set of circumstances. The most important thing to keep in mind, is that if someone is willing to change and stop doing what isn’t working for them, that is the point in time when the opportunity to be on a successful path will become a realistic possibility. 

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