How Leaders Lose Their Luster And 3 Ways To Get It Back

A few weeks ago I pulled a black coffee mug out of my dishwasher and noticed massive white streaks down the sides of the mug. Hard to miss. I then looked at the flatware, dishes and glasses and noticed that they had lost their luster. Although the white streaks on the mug immediately caught my attention, the loss of luster (which had apparently been going on for quite some time) hadn’t.

I phoned an appliance repair service and they dispatched a repairman to my home. He said the streaks and dullness were due to calcium buildup from the hard water we have in Kansas City. To remove the calcium he recommended that I buy a dishwater cleaner (I never knew a dishwasher required cleaning). To restore the luster to the glasses, plates and flatware, he suggested that (after the dishwasher  was clean) I put a bottle of white vinegar into the dishwater as well as the usual detergent. It all worked.

So what’s this have to do with leadership? Good leaders are brilliance activators. They uncork the creative power of their teams. They encourage teamwork. They pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of their staff members. They align activity to common purpose. They get great things done.

But over time, leaders get caught up in the day-to-day pressures to:

  • do more with less
  • stay ahead of the competition
  • fill out the forms
  • fight the fires
  • and so on and so on…

And little by little the leaders lose their luster. They no longer activate the brilliance of others because their own has dulled.

If they’re lucky, the leaders will face a crisis (white streaks on a black mug) that will force them to examine, or at least question, why they and their teams no longer shine. Then what?

If they know what’s caused their loss of luster, they can fix it. If they don’t know what’s causing the problem, here’s three things they need to do:

  1. Get help from a mentor, a consultant, or a Brilliance Activator (call the repairman). They can readily recognize the source of the problem. It’s their job and they have the experience and the expertise.
  2. Review processes (clean the dishwasher). The manner in which things are done needs regular review. Some processes should be discarded, some fixed and some new ones may need to be created.
  3. Be disciplined (use vinegar). The good leader knows that there is nothing more important than his/her team. Both the leader and the team need to stay focused on the mission and the strategies and tactics that serve it. Hard decisions need to be made to end activities that do not serve the mission or strengthen the team. Communication needs to be open and honest.

This all sounds terribly simple and it is. But simple is seldom easy.

Brilliance Activator helps leaders uncork the creative power of their teams to develop products and services that delight customers, increase repeat sales, and improve their profit margins. Receive regular insights and information from Brilliance Activator by subscribing to our free newsletter.
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