“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
“The most successful business people hold onto the old just as long as it’s good & grab the new just as soon as it’s better.” ~Lee Iacocca
One of the most important things that we gain over time in our positions as leaders is experience. Experience gives us better perspective, helps speed decision making, and emboldens us with confidence to do the hard things we will be called upon to do. But experience can have a downside if we don’t keep evaluating it:
Routine – “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is a phrase that we can fall into as experienced leaders without necessarily saying it. We manage projects in the same way, we address customer interactions in the same way, we look at the same metrics every month, etc. etc. If you aren’t constantly “sharpening the saw” as Stephen Covey says and looking to refine how you go about your duties, you are in great danger of stagnating.
Overconfidence – Experience breeds confidence and if you are not careful to keep it in check you can find yourself making decisions based on incomplete and out of date information. Yes, you want to move quickly with your decision, but you need to ensure you are open to feedback from your team and you are validating that the information that goes into your decision is the same as you expect. Every project and situation has some differences from what you have experienced in the past. Be sure you know about them.
Stifling Innovation – If you take the above two and put them together you have an environment that is in great danger of losing creativity. Things get done the way that they are best done now and the feedback and ideas of the team are diminished because of the authority of the leader. Innovation requires that you be ready to cast aside the current process (and some of the experience that goes along with it) and bring everyone into the discussion of how things are to be done and constantly improved.
Dealing with and managing your own experience and success is necessary so that you can continue growing in your career. Many of the strengths that we all possess as leaders have a dark side to them. Being aware of the weaknesses that can be attached to the strengths is a key to being able to address them. All of that wonderful experience you have gained is no different. So be aware of this and ensure your strength doesn’t actually end up holding you back.