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When You Are Lost, Here Are 7 Leadership Directions to Keep You on the Right Path

The right path is not necessarily hard to find. Staying on the right path? That is what’s hard…

Here’s the problem:

You are put into a Leadership position. A new role. Little orientation. No training. Sink or swim.

No mentoring. Not a role model in sight. No one to ask. They are too busy figuring out and dealing with their own shit. Besides, you don’t want to admit right out of the chute that you need help. That you are clueless.

By the way, that is a potential warning sign that PRIDE might be getting in your way

Do you really know what you are doing? Were you the right person for this role? Is this your time? Is Self-Doubt beginning to creep in?

Someone forgot to tell us there is no Leadership Cookbook containing all the recipes for success…

Maybe this is you. Or perhaps it’s not exactly that bad. But you could still use some help. Or maybe, you are an experienced Leader, but like every other system, organism, enterprise or person on this earth, shit happens. Life get’s more complicated. Nothing quite stays the same. Entropy sets in.

Above all else, do not allow pride to blind you. Keep you from figuring out what to do. Convince you that you will eventually figure it out. Don’t allow a prideful sense of miscalculation to take over your mind.

Let me repeat this. It’s that important.

Do not allow PRIDE to blind you…

There are many Leadership challenges in addition to Pride, that can either cause you to stray off the right path, or keep you from finding it again and resuming your journey. Some of these challenges present themselves as people, situations, or events. Among them are:

  • Receiving bad advice
  • Allowing personal integrity to be subsumed in order to make a decision
  • Unimportant distractions and “shiny objects”
  • Procrastination and neglect
  • Not setting or following a set of solid core values
  • Trusting people or situations without proper vetting
  • Spinning or stretching the truth to mask or justify a particular situation
  • Tempting short term solutions with long term consequences
  • Taking short cuts and wandering into “gray” areas

Some of these challenges often present themselves in potentially lethal combinations. In my case, all ten were the cause of my disastrous tenure as the Leader of a large global startup.

You can read about my disaster here:

And I wrote about it again here:

So how do you successfully navigate perilous waters? How do you avoid submerged rocks that threaten to sink your vessel?

For those of you who are new to a Leadership role or just a wee bit inexperienced, and also for those that are experienced Leaders but find themselves struggling to find or stay on the path, I offer the following.

7 Directions For Finding and Staying on the Right Path

1. Think Back to Your Roots

We all came into the world buck naked. We all depended on someone to give us life, and to sustain it. Some of us came from really humble beginnings.

In your mind, come back to that organic and natural period of humility. Let the feelings you once experienced wash over you. Let the feelings center you. Bring you back to reality. Do this frequently. It will help guide you.

2. Don’t Think Yourself Invincible or Infallible

We all make mistakes. Acknowledge that you will make mistakes. When you make a mistake, own it. Face it. Learn from it. Then move on. Don’t justify and rationalize any mistake by any means into acceptable behavior.

Don’t talk yourself into a false sense of security. Be accountable when you make a mistake. People will rally around the honesty, integrity and accountability.

3. Become More Black and White in Your Thinking

About what is right behavior and what is wrong and unacceptable. This is especially valuable when you don’t have enough experience and skills to evaluate gray areas or complicated circumstances.

Once you start to see the world in shades of gray, you think you can hop in and out of the gray areas of life at will and cannot get into trouble. Pride creeps in and convinces you of this. Remove the gray areas. Life and decisions become a lot easier to manage and make.

There is a fine line between skirting disaster and coming out whole, and falling off a cliff and fatally crashing and burning.

4. Don’t place yourself above anything or anyone

Everyone has value. Red is not better than blue or purple. In fact, purple is the combination of red and blue. They are all colors with a valuable place in this world. See the world and people in the light of valuable differences. Learn from other people’s perspectives.

5. Look in the mirror

Literally, a real mirror. Do it figuratively as well. Introspect. Nightly, weekly, quarterly, and annually. What is going right in your life? What could be going better? Take inventory. Take that inventory and use it to continuously improve. If you can’t see yourself clearly, ask a trusted confidant to help you see yourself.

6. Don’t become your own adviser

Don’t convince yourself that you have all the answers. Be more participatory and collegial when making decisions. Use the power of the Team in analyzing issues and problems and making decisions.

7. Don’t TRY to be humble

Humble is not something you DO. It is something you BECOME and ARE. Humility is a by product of a life well lived. Once you say you are HUMBLE, guess what? You are not…

These are 7 directions I have used successfully throughout my career. They have helped me find the right path, stay on it, or reconnect with it those times I went astray. Your Call to Action is to at least consider some of these directions.

See how you might put some of them in place to help find and not stray off the right path, and avoid your own personal or organizational disaster.

Keep in mind, sometimes the right path is the one less popular and little traveled…

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 376,225 people.

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