Jesse Lyn Stoner on Leadership Drift: Five Questions to Get You Back on Track

In her Switch and Shift blog, author and biz consultant @Jesse Lyn Stoner explains a few of the causes of “leadership drift,” related to “team drift,” but reflecting an imbalance in your inner satisfaction, motivation and integrity as a leader.

Leader dislocation can come from positive changes or negative circumstances, but the common characteristic of drift triggers is that they disrupt our creative flow, our work relationships, and our sense of who we are. They can include a sudden crisis or change in our situation, a gradual shift in our company’s integrity or mission, or a promotion that takes us away from the work we love.

So what do we do when we realize we’ve drifted? Stoner recommends self-examination, focusing on five questions to remind us of our core motivations, identities and goals.

She writes: “These questions can help you reconnect with what’s most important to you. Ask yourself:
“What do I want to do?” — not “What should I do?”
“What do I truly desire?” — not “”What do I want to move away from?”
“What do I care deeply about? What am I willing to stand in front a bus to defend?
“What do I want to be known for? How do I want to feel about myself? What do I want from my relationships?”
“Why do I want that?” — Dig down below your initial answers to discover what is fundamentally important to you.”

I would add one more question: “Where in my life do I need to play more?” There’s nothing like following our bliss to get us back on track (and the idea of play is a way to find that sweet spot!) Earnest self-examination is very important — and it pays off more when we remember to reward ourselves with some pure joy every now and then.
photo from Wikipedia profile

photo from Wikipedia profile

The great entertainer Mae West famously said, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” She made a career out of her independent wit and flirtatious nature, and was a savvy business woman who supported her entire family and managed a thriving career well into her 70s. I often think of her when I’m getting too serious, and need to remember that play can also get me back on track!

West also said, less famously: “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Sometimes, getting back on track means making painful changes, facing difficult truths, or confronting stagnant relationships. But when, as Stoner says, “the tail wags the dog,” then ” it’s time to reclaim your purpose.”
Leadership drift happens, but it doesn’t have to get us stuck. Leaders aligned with their values, goals and purpose lead better and feel good, balancing work and play, service and self-care, transformation and stability.

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