3 Proven Leadership Strategies to Set Your Team Up for Success This Year

Analyzing strategy

Most leaders can attest to this truth: Success doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. When you plan, strategize, and maintain the right mindset, it creates sustained performance. Pablo Picasso said, “Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan. There is no other route to success.” 

Unfortunately, most managers and executive leadership teams ignore this sound advice. Instead, they jump from one year to the next without much thought to strategy or planning. According to research outlined by Harvard Business Review, 85% of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and 50% spend no time at all. The research also reveals that, on average, 95% of a company’s employees don’t understand its strategy.

The best leaders spent dedicated time on a strategy to create focused execution.  

A strategy, by definition, is a plan of action intended to accomplish a specific goal. While the explanation is simple, few leaders use the downtime at the end of the year to set their team up for success in the new year. Instead, they roll into the new year by raising the revenue bar a little bit and hope the team achieves the new target. The problem is, as the late Rick page used to say, “hope is not a strategy.”

Hope is not a strategy.

So, whether you’ve spent a lot of time on strategy and planning yet or not, here are a few leadership moves to boost your team’s performance in the new year. 

1. Define New Goals and Systems

One of the most popular excuses I hear from leaders I coach who fail to meet their team goals each year is, “my employees aren’t good enough.” While talent could be lacking, employees are never the only problem. Edward Deming, the father of change management, said it well, “Employees are not the problem. The problem is the system and leaders are responsible for the system.”  

After working with various organizations to help their leaders improve their performance, I have concluded that team goals/systems fail for one of four reasons:

  • Clarity about the goals/systems
  • Commitment to the goals/systems
  • Agreement to the goals/systems
  • Coaching to achieve the goals/system

Now is the time to avoid these pitfalls, get crystal clear on what your team will achieve in the new year, and define the systems that will help you get there. 

Belief is a required ingredient for results. 

The truth is I don’t care whether you use OKR’s, KPI’s, WIG’s, or some other goal system. What I care about is that you select a method that works for you and your team. Because any method increases belief & belief is a required ingredient for results. 

2. Set the Crossbars, Standards, and Shelters

After studying thousands of organizations over the last ten years, I have noticed that world-class organizations have “Centers of Excellence” at every level. The leaders and team members are bought into the idea of excellence and the behaviors required to surpass ordinary standards year in and year out.  

I teach leaders who want to create “Centers of Excellence” in their sphere of influence to focus on crossbars, standards, and shelters. If you aren’t familiar with or haven’t been to one of our leadership workshops, the idea comes for the sport of High Jumping. The crossbar is the height in which the athlete must clear. The standards are what adjust the height of the crossbar. The shelter provides a safe place to land.  

Your job as a leader is to set inspirational crossbars (goals), define clear standards of behavior that are required to achieve those goals (standards), then create a psychologically safe environment for people to perform at their best (shelters).  

3. Schedule Personal Development Reviews

When individuals get better, the team gets better. The best leaders and teams understand this and work relentlessly to get improve. I share some ideas in a receive interview about why failure is not final; failure is feedback.

Instead of hoping your team members have this same mindset, it’s your job to encourage and coach them to improve in the new year. But, it turns out, most people have a warped sense of their strengths and weaknesses. The reasons for this are long, but it revolves around not being told the truth.  

If you want to set your team us for success in the new year, get the truth on the table. Schedule “Personal Development Reviews” (PDR’s) with each team member to share the truth about their strengths and weaknesses in a loving way. 

While this might seem like a meeting you could wing, it is not. It would help if you took time in advance to write out gains they have made and the opportunities for improvement for each team member. 

Individuals who make small improvements in themselves set their team up for big achievements. 

Professional Note: It’s tempting as a leader to share truths with team members and forget that you also are a work in progress. At the end of PDR’s, ask this question:

“I am working on my own development. What can I do more of or less of to help you become the best version of yourself?”


At the end of each year, I often reflect on the wise words of the late Colin Powell to prepare myself for success in the new year, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in the little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it’s a prevailing attitude.”  

There has never been a better time to focus on the little things than the present. I hope you will make dedicated time to strategize and plan around some of these ideas to help set your team up for success in the new year. 

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why Great Leaders Know Teamwork is a Key to Their Success

Conceptual for brainstorming and teamwork

A team, by definition is a group of people who come together to achieve a common goal.  Too often we confuse multiple people who work in the same business unit or in the same company was a team. 

There is one common thread that differentiates groups of people who work together and those that act like a team and that’s leadership at every level. 

The ability for leaders to bring people together to achieve excellent outcomes is a skill that very few do consistently well. However, it’s always easier with the individuals make the choice to work together, which is best referred to as teamwork. Teamwork it’s achieved when each individual buys into the group’s greater good over their self-interest. 

Take Amy, a sales manager in a technology company, as an example. I started working with her as a coach when she was hired to take over a group of 15 sales reps. At the time, only 20% of the team was hitting their quota, collectively they hadn’t hit their sales target in five years, and the engagement was an abysmal 57%. 

As excited as she was about her first ample leadership opportunity, the uphill challenge didn’t scare her because management jobs rarely open up when things are going well. She jumped right in, got to know her team members personally, made some tough decisions about letting a few reps go, and brought in some fresh faces, then got to work in developing teamwork.

She invested time, energy, and money to bring the reps together in person once a quarter and created weekly meetings where each person was an active participant. During those crucial interactions, she manufactured human connection, gained buy-in, and built the belief that the team could collectively achieve a big goal.  

Little by little, the results started to come together, and by the end of her second year on the job, 80% of the reps hit their quota, the group exceeded their sales target by 40%, and the engagement rate jumped 84%.  

Amy understood the key to her leadership success was getting each individual to buy into the group’s greater good over their own self-interest.

“Teamwork is achieved when individuals buy into the group’s greater good over their self-interest.”

Focus on Teamwork

When team members are authentic, collaborate, and challenge each other, the results are almost always superior to working alone. Teamwork is when people bring their authentic selves and skills together to produce excellent outcomes for the group. 

The best team members bring their authentic selves and skills together to produce excellent outcomes for the group. 

Looking back at the most significant achievements in sports or business, you will always find great teamwork was behind it. There is a plethora of research that supports the essential nature of teamwork. 

If you want to improve teamwork, here are a few ideas to get individuals to work as a team.  

1. Get Obsessive Buy-In Towards a Shared Goal

A team, by definition, means to come together as a team to achieve a common goal. Success won’t follow if leaders don’t define a common goal that team members care about achieving.  

If leaders don’t define a shared goal that team members care about achieving, success won’t follow.  

The keyword here is “shared.” While it will be tempting to stand at the top of the mountain and scream a big, hairy, audacious goal to your team, if they aren’t bought into, help define what’s possible, and determine what it would take to achieve it, they won’t give their best effort. 

In the example of the Ryder Cup, the ultimate shared goal is simple, take home the Ryder Cup Trophy at the end of the tournament. However, every team competing since 1927 has had that goal. The key as a Ryder Cup captain or as a team leader at work, is getting obsessive buy-in from each individual about achieving the goal.  

2. Manufacture Human Connection

Teamwork can’t be achieved without people getting to know each other and working well together. Too often, leaders assume and take for granted the quality of relationships between members of their team. Here is the hard truth. Just because members of the same team are in meetings together, doesn’t mean they know or care about each other.  

Just because team members are in meetings together, doesn’t mean they know or care about each other.  

Conflict and diverse thinking are essential elements of teamwork. Because of this, developing relationships built on the foundation of trust and respect is a requirement. While it might be uncomfortable at first, part of a leader’s job is to manufacture human connection and create a sense of belonging between team members. There are all kinds of strategies for this, but my favorite from our leadership workshops is the hero, highlight, hardship exercise. 

3. Inspire Personal Growth That Benefits the Team

When people are growing, they are much more likely to buy into the leader that is helping them do it. So often, we think about growth in terms of a company, but rarely do we think about it in terms of people.

Personal growth is the foundation of motivation. It’s hard to inspire team members who aren’t growing. Personal growth is the foundation of any successful professional. 

It’s hard to inspire team members who aren’t growing. Personal growth is the foundation of any successful professional.  

Leaders have a unique advantage of creating healthy competition between team members to fuel personal growth and development. In the case of the Ryder Cup, successful captains have created pods of smaller team members in the build-up of the competition to fuel personal growth and performance. 


There is nothing easy about leadership and getting individuals to work as a team. As many stories there are about sales managers like Amy, there are more stories of managers who have the opposite outcomes.  

Since you are thinking, reading, and looking for specific ideas to apply in your leadership approach should provide you confidence that you are on the right track. 

What did I leave out? Tell me in the comments.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.s

Why Great Leaders Believe in Success Before They See Success

Businessman building a graph or ladder of success

If you are worried about achieving success, you aren’t alone. The vast majority of people struggle to believe that the future will end with a good outcome; which is precisely why it won’t.   

The best leaders and top performers understand this important truth:

Believing success will happen doesn’t guarantee it will, but not believing ensures it won’t.  

A belief, by definition, is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is true. An alternative definition is; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

The power of this definition is constantly on display in the world of sports. Take Trae Young, the leader and best player of the Atlanta Hawks, as an example. In a pivotal game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA’s 2021 Eastern Conference Playoffs, Young and his teammates found themselves down by 20 points heading into the 4th quarter. Instead of giving up and mailing it in to get ready for game six at home, they chose belief.  

Over the next 12 minutes of game action, the Hawks erased the deficit and overcame the long odds to win, 109-106. After the game, during the on-court interview, when asked about the comeback, Young said, “We never stop believing until the final buzzer goes off.”

Young’s words unlock the fact that great leaders believe it before they see it, and just because they think it, doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Seeing it Makes it Easy to Believe, But Rarely Does it Happen

In a 1950’s study, Harvard professor Dr. Curt Richter placed rats in a pool of water to test how long they could tread water. On average, they would give up after 15 minutes. 

Just before giving up due to exhaustion, the researchers would pull them out of the water, dry them off, let them take a rest, and then put them back in the water for a second round.  

In this second attempt, the rats didn’t tread for 15 minutes; they lasted for 60 hours on average!

There is no denying that psychology is a complicated field of study, but just by experiencing and seeing they were going to be pulled out of the water when they got tired, the rats lasted 240 times longer.  Unfortunately, leaders rarely have the luxury of testing the waters of success.  

Great leaders and top performers know they must believe before they achieve.

Train Your Brain the Same Way You Build Skills

There is no denying that believing something that hasn’t yet happened is difficult, which is why most people don’t do it. Instead, they use a strategy of hope, but as Rick Page used to say, “hope isn’t a strategy.”  

To believe excellent outcomes will happen well before they do takes training. You must build the belief in your brain the same way you build technical skills. It requires mental reps, affirmations, and building habits around looking for the good in things. It also requires you to look beyond your past experiences.  

On a recent episode of the Tim Ferriss show, Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, said, “I could see how constraining my beliefs were by creating my future from the past.” Not only is Wilson right, but the best way to believe is not to look back but to look forward.

The best leaders are visionaries because they can easily manifest future possibilities. The late great Dr. Myles Munroe used to say, “vision is the capacity to see beyond what your eyes can see.” Your eyes and your past are the enemy regarding building belief and becoming a visionary leader. 

Your eyes and past are the enemies regarding becoming a visionary leader.

There aren’t many secrets or shortcuts to increasing your belief except one: Set goals you care about achieving.

The Power of Goal Setting

Whether you lead a team or want to increase your personal belief, setting short and long-term goals is a phenomenal strategy. It will force you to think about the future and challenge you to define things you and your team want to accomplish. 

Even if you or the team fails to meet the goals, there is a 100% chance you learned from the failure, and got closer to achieving it. There are all kinds of incredible goal-setting systems and formulas; however, instead of regurgitating SMART goals or something similar, I want you to consider writing down one goal for yourself or your team today. Use your favorite formula or the one I wrote about in Building the Best:

Clear Objective + Completion Date + Carrot.


Regardless of your faith or religious background, there is a scripture in the Bible that says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” There is nothing easy about having belief in something we can’t see; but, just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  

Today, challenge yourself to define a new goal, keep it visible, and invite others to hold you accountable. You will be amazed at what you or your team will see in the future!

Do you agree? If so, how do you believe something in order to help make it happen?

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Lead With Courage

One old and plenty of new pencils on black background

Leaders must develop many attributes or skills if they want to have a meaningful impact in the workplace. Having a positive attitude will change your life, empathy improves your ability to connect with team members, while a focus on goal setting and accountability ensures that your team members meet their professional potential.  

But among all these essential elements of leadership, the value of courage is consistently overlooked. Part of this is because when we first think of courage, we tend to think of heroic acts like landing a plane on the Hudson or running into a burning building to save someone. Right behind a heroic act, courage is often thought of as an attribute that only a few extraordinary leaders possess. One’s that walk around with a big S on the chest like the comic Superman.

While these are widely popular views of courage, it is a far cry from how it’s used by great leaders on a daily basis and the word’s actual meaning. I defined it in my book Building the Best as the “ability to do something that frightens you.”

C.S. Lewis famously said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” Lewis got it right because each and every virtue a leader needs to possess will meet its testing point at some time. If that wasn’t enough the great William Wallace said it well in Braveheart; “people don’t follow titles; they follow courage.”

People don’t follow titles; they follow courage.  

In other words, a courageous leader is precisely the kind of leader required in today’s hyper-changing marketplace. 

What Happens When You’re Courageous

When you haven’t made many courageous decisions in your life or career, it’s tempting to believe you are just not a fearless leader. Reject this negative thinking with all your might. Courage can be exercised at any time with situations big and small by anyone willing to embrace it. 

While neuroscience research suggests that some people innately possess a thrill-seeking or “Type T” personality, courage is still required to act whether you are wired with higher risk tolerance levels or not.  

In working with leaders from all different backgrounds and industries, two significant outcomes happen when leaders are courageous. 

  1. Clarity in the Future
  2. Increased Opportunities

Clarity in the Future

One of the things many professionals are struggling with right now is clarity in their journey. There is so much uncertainty and doubt surrounding us right now; it has many questioning their purpose and pathway. What is ironic is when you are frightened and decide to do something anyway, it creates clarity, not confusion. It shows us that we are on the right or wrong path whereas if we did not act, we would remain stuck in the same place filled with uncertainty. 

Leaders Who Act Courageously Create Clarity, Not Confusion

While we aspire to have clarity as quickly as possible, it is also true that the clarity we want may not find us at our own timeline, but at at later time. However, it should provide confidence to know that when you are choosing courage, you are on the path towards clarity. 

Increase in Opportunities

Something funny happens when you act courageously as a leader, opportunity finds you. With an increase in opportunities comes the ability to make a significant impact on others and drive additional revenue. 

Entrepreneur John Wiesehan told me, “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. When you act courageously, these new opportunities have a funny way of finding you. Which then allows you to make calculated decisions about which opportunities to pursue.” 

Courageous leaders can examine new opportunities quickly, as Wiesehan suggests, to reject recklessness. If they feel they lack information or the bandwidth to pursue something, it allows them to choose the right time to act courageously in the future.

How to Be More Courageous

Since courage is essential in leadership and provides significant upside, we must work hard to exercise it. Here are a few of the strategies I have seen be effective:

  1. Write Down the Worst Possible Outcome. Our brains are fascinating because we have an almond-shaped mass in them called an Amygdala. This part of our brain has become best known for its role in fear processing. This means that this area in our brain controls fear and our responses to it. You are naturally wired to run from or avoid things that can be harmful.  Getting in the habit of writing down the worst possible outcome from acting on something that frightens you often provides insight that the worst scenario isn’t actually all that bad.  
  2. Quantify the Best Possible Outcome. Since our brains constantly evaluate either the pain or gain in every situation, highlighting the benefits of courageous leadership is a powerful method to encourage action. Regardless if the end outcome meets or even exceeds our expectations, the practice of allowing your brain to visualize the possible benefits in a situation is a decisive step in the process of being more courageous. 
  3. Lean Into the Emotions. Acting as if emotions such as doubt or fear do not exist is a false path to courage. Being open and honest about your emotions is not a weakness; it is a strength. In a recent episode of Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead Podcast, Dr. Susan David was speaking about the dangers of Toxic Positivity and said, “Emotions are data, not directives. We get to choose who we want to be; our emotions don’t.” The wisdom in Dr. David’s words can’t be overstated. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that would cause you not to act courageously and then decide to move forward despite them when it makes sense. 

“Emotions are data, not directives. We get to choose who we want to be; our emotions don’t.” Dr. Susan David


The better you get at acting as a courageous leader, the easier it will be to set your fear aside and lead people, teams, and organizations to a better place than they are today. To quote the great Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The One Kind of Goal Great Leaders Set Each Year

Change Your Mindset, business motivational inspirational, goals

Maybe it’s to increase revenue, improve profitability, or to reduce voluntary turnover. Whatever the goal is, it matters because you have taken the time and energy to define your team’s new performance goals to achieve in 2021.

Research suggests that goal-driven leaders outperform those that are not. So if you’re not a goal-setting kind of person, maybe it’s time to rethink your approach at the beginning of the year.  

However, as a leadership consultant and coach, the vast majority of leaders I work with don’t struggle with the idea of setting goals. Whether they learned “setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to the visible” from Tony Robbins, or they have seen the positive impact of goal-setting in their career, convincing them isn’t the problem. 

The issue arises when they only think of one kind of goal, performance goals.  

Two Kinds of Goals

The vast majority of leaders are measured in their company by performance metrics (E.g., revenue targets, profitability, customer satisfaction, or on-time delivery.) While these are key metrics to measure and set correlating goals around, there is another kind of goal leaders must consider, what I call Impact Goals.  

An impact goal is having a strong effect on others as the desired result. 

It’s impact goals where the difference between a manager and a leader becomes clear. For most managers, measuring themselves or their team based on the positive impact they have on others is minimal. There might be times or seasons where they consider it more than others, but rarely do they think about their lasting legacy.  

Managers measure themselves based on performance alone. Leaders measure themselves based on performance plus impact.

Leaders think and act differently. Not only do they set clear performance goals, but they also think about their legacy and the long-term impact they want to have on other people. 

What’s the difference between Performance vs. Impact Goals?

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How to Set Impact Goals

There are a million and one goal-setting techniques out there. Instead of sharing the one we teach in Building the Best, there is a good chance you already have one that works for you. So take your formula and add a column titled “Impact.” Start by identifying the positive impact you want to have on others this year by writing down a measurable number. 

Take Martha as an example. She is a regional manager at a large hotel organization. She has 10 General Managers underneath her and thousands of employees underneath her General Managers. This year she set some ambitious performance goals for her region, but she also set an ambitious impact goal for herself and her General Managers.  

Impact Goal: Advance the careers of 50 team members to higher-paying positions by the end of 2021.  

By Martha setting both performance and impact goals, her team will work hard to make both the numbers and the development of people.  

Why Impact Goals Are Important

To provide context on why impact goals are essential, I want to turn your attention to marathon running. What I have learned is when most people run their first marathon, they go along pretty well for the first 10 to 20 miles. Then they hit a wall, both mentally and physically. The first thing they ask themselves at this wall is, “I don’t know If I can finish.” But then they ask themselves the ultimate question, “why does it matter if I finish?”

If a runner isn’t connected to the positive impact of finishing the race, they will give up or settle for what they accomplished (which would be mile 18, where most people give up.)  

Our impact on other people most inspires us.

What I have found is our impact on other people most inspires us. You work harder, more effectively, and more productively when you know that your efforts positively impact someone else.


Since it’s the end of the year and the start of a new year, I hope you set performance goals and impact goals.

The best part is not only will you make a more significant difference in other people’s lives, but you will be teaching your team the value of achieving things that go beyond performance.  

How to Set Personal Goals That Work: Goal setting is an effective way to achieve more in 2021. Last Week’s Exclusive Weekly Leadership lesson was “How to Set Personal Goals.” While I am thrilled members of the Ultimate Leadership Academy have access to this lesson, I wanted you to learn from it as well.  To access the lesson just click here.  Once there, just create an account and click on “Free Preview.”

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Motivate a Team That’s Complacent

Hands holding sparking fire

It’s hard to imagine anyone would sign up to become complacent. Complacency conjures visuals of an unengaged workforce, boredom, and marriages on life support. However, while deficient in many ways, complacency can be the catalyst that energizes, invigorates, and propels a person, team, or relationship to meet its full potential. 

It turns out, in the last few years, we were in a little bit of a complacency bubble. Research completed by an Achievers survey in 2019 found 70.1% of employees did not consider themselves “very engaged,” but only 34% of those professionals had a plan to look for a different job. While I hesitate to use any research done prior to the pandemic, it was clear employees weren’t engaged, yet they were comfortable staying where they were.  

Only time will tell if this pandemic will be the catalyst for causing the complacency bubble to burst in our workplaces; this will always be a challenge. Complacent is defined as feeling so satisfied with your own abilities or situation that you feel you do not need to try and harder. In our research studying leaders, even those in positions of leadership or ones with great responsibility, aren’t immune to feeling satisfied that they don’t need to try any harder.  

As you can see in the image below, our commitment will constantly be tested as time continues. 

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It’s each leader and team member’s responsibility to Reject Complacency and Embrace Growth.

Are You Embracing Growth 

One of the biggest causes of complacency is a lack of self-awareness that it’s happening.Like I said earlier, no one sets out to become complacent. If you are anything like me, you have got on a scale to weigh yourself and were caught by surprise at the inflated number. That number didn’t happen by accident, it happened because I got complacent in my choices and habits, and I lost awareness of it.   

There is a simple question to ask yourself to determine if you are embracing growth or falling complacent. “Am I actively working on getting better at ________?” Here are a few examples:

“Am I actively working on getting better as a leader?”

“Am I actively working on getting better in key technical skills?

“Am I actively working on getting better in my marriage?”

“Am I actively working on getting better in my faith walk?”

While the question is simple to ask, the answer can be complicated, especially if you aren’t self-aware. The ultimate test is to pose the question to someone close to you who would give you an objective and honest answer. The combination of your two answers is where the truth lies. 

Teams, Just Like Leaders, Can Become Complacent

If you find yourself leading a team that has become complacent and isn’t meeting or exceeding what they are capable of, it’s not time to sit back and hope it gets better. Hope isn’t a strategy. You need a tactical guide on how to rally a complacent team. Give some of these a shot to inject life into your group: 

1. Accept the reality of complacency.

LearnLoft partners with HR leaders to help their executives and managers to lead their best. Many of these leaders aren’t ready to accept that their team has become complacent. They find a myriad of excuses for the lack of effort, energy, and intensity the team displays on a day in and day out basis. Get into the proper headspace and embrace the reality of the situation so you can look to make some changes.  

2. Narrow down a list of causes for the complacency.

Since the ability to become satisfied with a situation can come from many different places, part of your job is to identify the root causes for the team as a whole or key individuals on the team.  

A few of the typical reasons include:

  • Being overpaid
  • Work is no longer challenging
  • Outcomes lose their original meaning

There is a less popular reason, and that is getting a lot of praise and accolades for success. On a recent episode of 3 Things with Ric Elias, Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats said, “It’s everyone’s job not to drink the poison of praise.” This makes incredible sense because the praise and recognition come from falling in love with the grind and the process of where the results come from.  

3. Open Up the Lines of Communication

Once you have a few strong suspicions for what might be causing the complacency, it’s time to open up the lines of communication with the team. Create an environment that allows people to say what needs to be said. Often this means air out grievances or feelings people have been holding onto.  

“Teams can’t perform at their best when things that need to be said are going unsaid.” 

Open and honest communication allows teams to say the things that need to be said which creates the space to recommit to the effort required for success.

4. Reconnect the Team to the Cause 

Reconnecting your team to the reason it exists in the first place is a great place to begin when the complacency bubble is in full effect. The reason is simple, as time passes it’s easy to forget why we are on this mission in the first place. 

A clear cause is instrumental in achieving higher levels of success.  

Do not go another minute without being clear on why your team is doing what it’s doing. It’s easy for people to get lost in the monotony of their everyday work without considering how their work impacts the larger organization and customers. 

If you’re unsure how to communicate this to your team, start by answering these two complicated yet straightforward questions:

What do you do, and why do you do it? (Hint: it’s got to be more than making money)

It’s easy to skim past this question, but I’m challenging you to pause. Reread it and ask yourself if each member of your team could answer it with clarity. If the answer is no, you have some work to do.

5. Challenge the Team with Smaller Goals

The verb form of the word “team” means coming together as a group to achieve a common goal. Complacent teams or people need a challenge to get excited about, which means you have to set a goal the team cares about achieving. Any random revenue or earning goal won’t do.  

Great leaders define short term goals their team cares about achieving.

Research has revealed that setting challenging and specific goals further enhance employee engagement in attaining those goals. Google uses Objectives and Key Results (OKR’s) to help managers and their teams perform better. Start small and get the team back in the mode of achieving goals that challenge them to be focused and at their best. 


Instead of looking at complacency as a dead end, it’s time to leverage it as a catalyst for growth. If you or your team find yourself complacent, now is the time to put some do something about it. You are just the leader to reject complacency and embrace growth.

How do you reject complacency and embrace growth? Provide some insight in the comments to help others do the same.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.