Whether you are working on your personal or professional growth, you must remember one important fact: leaders can’t change organizations, but they can change people. Changed people can then foster change in organizations! Do you want to stifle growth? Don’t develop yourself or those around you. Here are three surefire ways to inhibit growth:

1. Return to (or stay) in a rigid hierarchical organization where the mindset was that there was limited talent available and a cap on what people could do or be.

Using this leadership style, employees and lower-level managers were treated like children, creating an “us vs. them” attitude. Those daring to show unusual talents were a personal threat if they didn’t work at the “top” of the organization. “Leaders” were more worried about protecting their own positions (and posteriors) than providing training, mentorship, or opportunities. Like a farmer, you will reap what you sow.

2. Demand growth in yourself or others immediately. Show impatience and give up on ideas, people, and challenges easily.

After all, we live in an “instant” society, right? If it doesn’t happen right away, it probably isn’t worth the effort. Sure you will pay the price for cutting corners or taking the easy way out in order to get things accomplished, but it works for the here and now.

3. Stay in neutral. Instead of choosing the direction of how and where you or others will grow, stay put and let time or chance dictate your direction.

You may have heard the parable of the proud, strong eagle that landed on a log floating down the river one frigid day. Despite the cold temperature, the eagle seemed to be enjoying basking in the sun while floating leisurely down the river. Eventually the current became stronger and the water got rougher. It then became obvious with the rushing current and the noise ahead that the eagle was nearing a waterfall. Boldy, he stood on the log until the last possible second. When he reached the edge of the waterfall, he spread his wings to fly but it was too late. His feet had become frozen to the log and he plummeted over the edge and into the freezing water below. Oops…

We can all identify with the eagle on some level, but there are a few things that we must remember when we decide to grow personally or professionally:

1. Growth can be infinite if we don’t limit our abilities or the abilities of others. Take the time to mentor, befriend, and teach others rather than patronizing them.

2. Stay the course and be patient. Change happens over time. Don’t let frustration get the better of you. 

3. Choose your direction. If you don’t choose the clear path of growth for yourself or others, time and chance will chose for you with predictably disappointing results.

Are you in a rut with your personal or professional growth? Leadership Excellence offers on-site leadership training in Medina and Cleveland, Ohio and remote leadership development training for individuals and organizations across the country. Check out our professional services here.

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