Regardless of the processes, systems and software in place, the common denominator to sustainable and successful businesses is people, in particular, those that lead the charge.

That would be you. The CEO.

So what happens when leaders lose their mojo? When the job becomes overwhelming and you subsequently underperform?

One of the biggest challenges facing CEOs, is balancing operational responsibility with vision and inspiration. How do you deal with a downturn and keep your employees engaged and motivated? What happens when the industry changes and your products and services need a renewal— fast?

"The biggest challenge CEOs will face in 2015 is to know when to adjust strategies around new innovations in the market, and when to stay the course.” – John Turner, CEO, UsersThink

During a recent chat with Chris Way, CEO of Bridgeport Energy Ltd, we discussed the view that when business is tight and finances are the primary focus, the sense of entrepreneurial spirit stops and a survival mindset kicks in. However, it’s during these times that a sense of connection to the company and its goals are even more important.

As your experience grows and the role develops, so too does the level of responsibility. There’s more time spent putting out fires than creating new strategies for the future. It's all relative. It's standard issue. I call it the ‘leadership squeeze.' I work with CEO’s daily on exactly this; navigating the tight spots to come back with a renewed sense of spirit and connection for what they do.

When a leader loses their mojo, it’s time for them to reignite the sense of connection, inspiration and drive within their organisation;

Here are 3 ways to fast track that:

1. Look Up:

Great CEO’s are connected to their business landscape, and they feel the minor tremors when things are a off track. Looking up is all about spotting the small signs before a bigger disaster hits.

  • Are people paying attention to detail on budgets and acquisitions?
  • Are products being delivered as per the quality and values of the business?
  • Are volume based KPIs creating a ‘shortcut’ mentality, that causes more mistakes to occur?
  • Are staff over-worked, detached and exhausted? Are they missing details and not adhering to health and safety rules?
  • Are there more incident reports than before?

Look up—where there’s smoke there’s fire. What’s going on inside the business and how are your customers responding.  Get your direct reports together and do a quick health check on operations.

2. Look Out:

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by day-to-day operations or your business, it may be time for you to engage with the trends in your industry and where you may be sitting as an organisation within the cycle.

Look back at your experience, draw on your history, engage your board to think outside the box with a helicopter view of where the business and current challenges are really sitting on your organisational timeline. Should you be sweating the small stuff or instead looking for some unorthodox strategies to get you through?

3. Look within:

Get back to basics. Why did you want to be a leader in the first place? What attracted you to the role of CEO? Be honest about the blend—for everyone it’s different. It could be the accolades, the financial reward, the thrill of making a real difference, or just of steering your own ship.

More often than not leaders lose their momentum when they become overwhelmed with board and stakeholder requirements, the lack of flexibility to deploy their vision, and a feeling of isolation (as a leader you don’t want to show your vulnerability).

Take time to reconnect with your why, to trust your experience, and to find the RIGHT type of support that suits the current business environment. How can you inspire again and be inspired yourself?

You probably already have all the answers, you just need to create the time to let your intuition and experience show you the way.

There’s a reason why you’re a leader—bring back your entrepreneurial spirit, and think with vision, purpose and passion for what you do.

Look up, look out and most importantly don’t forget to look within.