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Are you falling into the complacency trap?

I saw the following words on a poster in my bank manager’s office the other day.

Complacency. Just because things are going well now, doesn’t mean that they can’t suddenly go horribly wrong.complacency

It was just below a photograph of a snail resting on a railway track, with a train approaching in the distance.  While I realize that the poster was slightly tongue-in-cheek, I was still reminded about how easily and quickly leaders can fall into this very trap.

Sure, it’s nice to have a period of time when things seem to be moving along smoothly, when the bumps in the road are small enough that they can almost be ignored.  But the reality is that while a short reprieve to catch your breath and celebrate success is well-deserved, resting on your laurels for too long can only get you into trouble.  When we get complacent, we tend to both under-estimate the risks we face, as well as over-estimate our own abilities.  And when complacency kicks in, things can suddenly go horribly wrong.

How would you know?

This poster got me thinking about how we would know if we are falling into the complacency trap.  What are the clues you should watch for as a leader that might indicate you are taking the status quo for granted?  Here is the list I came up with: Continue reading

The dangers of becoming complacent

worldtravelThe world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  So said St. Augustine in the 4th century.  And it’s a doctrine that I’ve taken to heart.  Those of you who know me know that I love to travel.  However, a recent travel experience taught me a lesson about the danger of becoming complacent, a lesson that applies to leadership as well, and something that I have talked about previously in the blog (see Nokia’s blunder).

Ironically, one of the most exciting things about world travel can also be the most trying … I speak of course about the lack of amenities in some developing parts of the globe that we simply take for granted in countries such as Canada and the United States.  On a recent overseas trip, I spent a few days in a rural community in India where I was harshly reminded that some of what I consider to be the basic necessities of life are actually luxuries in other parts of the world.  I am so used to twirling a tap to get water or flicking a switch to get electricity that I have come to expect these conveniences without even giving it a second thought.  In fact, I have become so complacent in expecting these services, that it led me to make some very poor decisions.

Frozen in the tropics!

Before I left for India, I checked the daily temperatures – they ranged from 7 to 15 degrees Celsius (45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) – in the areas that I was traveling to.  Thinking as a girl who’s spent most of her life in Canada (where we have central heating almost everywhere), I said to myself – “that’s pretty good weather”.  And I packed accordingly.  Continue reading