What is the leader’s best friend?
John Maxwell calls momentum “the great exaggerator.” It makes you appear better than you really are or worse than you really are. You know when you have it and you wish you had it when you don’t.
It is so important to try and keep your momentum when you have it. In my work with student leaders, there are times throughout the year when we naturally have increased momentum. For instance, the start of the school year is a time of momentum because everyone has a lot of energy and excitement for what lies ahead. But the natural momentum we possess can be easily lost.
It’s harder to create momentum then it is to maintain it.
Leaders must be mindful of those things that can work against the momentum they’ve worked so hard to build. Here are what I consider to be 5 of the most lethal momentum killers that can stop any organization or team in it’s tracks.
1. Wait Until The Last Minute.
If you wait until the last minute to make a decision or to implement your plan (or even start planning) you take away your options. Options are the things that allow you to be excellent and creative. If you continually procrastinate you’ll usually do what you need to in order to get by. Getting things done on time or even before they’re due allows you to get creative and to hone your work. Momentum is continually ignited by action. Waiting until the last minute means that you’ve simply wasted time.
2. The Success Stop.
One of the biggest killers of momentum is your own success. You would think that wouldn’t be true, but it is. Let’s say you work hard toward planning a successful event and that event is every bit as successful as you hoped. Most people have a tendency to slow down and want to rest on that success. They keep pointing back to what a great event it was. But they fail to move forward to the NEXT event.
If you experience success, then you have some momentum built up. This is the time when you need to move forward quickly and maintain that momentum with another success.
3. Absence / Silence / Indifference
I put all three of these things together because they all define a lack of leadership when it comes to maintaining momentum. I came up with a little rhyme to help you remember what each of these mean:
Absence is when you just aren’t there.
Silence is when you just won’t share.
Indifference is when you just don’t care.
Keeping momentum requires that you be PRESENT as a leader. You must show up and keep your people focused and headed in the right direction. The minute you disengage, you begin to whittle away at your momentum. People want to follow leaders who are present, articulate, and passionate.
This one is similar to, if not the result of, #1. When we begin to do less than excellent work our momentum begins to slide. People aren’t excited or inspired by average. Teams that merely do enough to get by are headed for disaster. At the end of each sports season, it’s the teams that exemplify their very best that make it into the playoffs.
I would add this as well – I believe it’s harder to build momentum in the midst of mediocrity than it is if you were doing nothing at all. That’s why you’ll often see teams and organizations completely kill off something and start fresh rather than try to salvage something or someone that continues to be mediocre.
5. Crisis in Character.
When a leader experiences a moral failure, it fractures the entire organization. Character is the foundation of leadership. While you don’t necessarily have to be a leader to have good character, you most definitely need good character to be an effective leader. How many times have you seen an organization growing and thriving, only to hit the skids because the leader had a character meltdown?
The minute you begin to try and separate your own personal character from your influence and abilities as a leader – you’re in trouble. Remember, if you want to be the best leader you can be for others, the first person you need to lead is yourself.
Don’t allow momentum to slip through your fingers. If you begin to identify any of these momentum killers in your organization or on your team – figure out how to stop them. Otherwise, they’ll stop you.