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Successful Leaders, Don’t Get Caught in a Rut

Marc-Olivier Desparts
Relevant and successful manager challenging status quo

Director of operations, Proaction International
In collaboration with Michel Coupal, R&D director, Proaction International

Warning! Reading this article will cause a chain reaction of awareness that you will not be able to undo. Once you have read it, there will be no going back…

Do you recognize yourself?

As we become more experienced and successful, it is easy to get sucked into the daily grind and take certain behaviors or situations for granted. We fall into a management routine that makes it more and more likely that we will take the easy route and maintain the status quo.

Repeating the same activities, participating in the same meetings, performing the same follow-ups, day in and day out, does this sound familiar to you? Do you sometimes feel like you're living the same day over and over again? If so, you may have the impression that you're on autopilot. And that's dangerous.

Of course, we all have days like these. However, making it your daily routine could lead first to a lack of creativity and innovation, and then to a lack of mobilization for you and your team, putting your results at risk! When this happens, we have the sensation of losing control when something unexpected occurs, thus causing anxiety during critical moments. Ultimately, this state could limit your progress in the organization and your career, so it is essential to focus on it in order to remain a relevant manager.

Take a leaf out of Bill Murray’s book

Have you ever seen Groundhog Day? In this film, Bill Murray, the lead actor, lives the same day over and over again. When he realizes what is happening, he becomes more creative and takes steps to improve things, day after day. He takes advantage of the situations he knows in advance and adopts a positive mindset. He even sets the table several times, distributing one activity over two or three days, rather than being afraid of its scale and postponing it. So he finds himself innovating and playing with the fact that he’ll relive this situation the following day, which causes him less anxiety.

Isn't this weird time loop a reflection of our reality? In fact, if you think about it carefully, regardless of our field of activity or area of expertise, every day is made up of several repetitive elements that can be exploited to our advantage to change things, innovate and reinvent ourselves, as Bill Murray did.

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The importance of a trigger

As a manager, what triggers you to challenge the status quo and reassess your way of doing things? Are you letting the opportunity pass you by? Are you aware of it? How would your teams respond to these questions?

Are you waiting for your boss to challenge you, to have bad performance results, bad news or a problem before you react?

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Take appropriate action

Being able to identify if you are on autopilot is important if you want to exit this loop and adopt a strong leadership mindset and a proactive management approach, because it requires effort and reflection. It is therefore important to take the time to think about it and to remain aware of it in order to follow the right course of action.

Installing a few safeguards in our everyday schedule can be useful to avoid going into autopilot and thus have more impact at work. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Ask our colleagues for feedback. This is a good way to get us thinking. Our colleagues often have an opinion that we value and their feedback is usually accurate. They can also give us information about our blind spots.
  2. Give ourselves short, medium and long-term challenges and objectives. What was your top professional achievement last year? Did you anticipate it? Were you in charge of it?
  3. Give yourself the means to succeed. For example, plan specific moments on your agenda to keep track of challenges and work on the points you received through feedback from colleagues. Giving yourself objectives is good, but planning time to work and reflect on them is even better!
  4. Run a daily retrospective. Ask yourself if you have positively influenced the performance of your organization or if you have inspired your team to excel. Switching out of autopilot means taking a step back and become introspective.


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Do you want to positively impact your daily life and develop your leadership?

As a manager, taking control of your development and the impact you have at work is too important to leave to your organization or your immediate supervisor. Proaction International's team of leadership development specialists can help you avoid the pitfalls of formulaic approaches and habits

Marc-Olivier Desparts

Marc-Olivier Desparts

Director of operations