By: James Robilotta, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

One of the biggest threats to organizational success are individuals who were part of a system or team when it was working in the past. Reason being, these are the first people to say, “This is the way we have always done it.” AKA, the leadership phrase of death. Sometimes, the most experienced person in the room can have the most negative impact.

Older members gain a somewhat deserved sense of entitlement in our organizations. They have the most experience, have seen what’s worked and what hasn’t, and therefore have earned the right to be listened to. Being the most experienced person does not automatically make them a leader though. There is a big difference between being a leader and being a resource. Leadership is an action, not a title.

Leaders innovate, they are never stagnant, and sure as heck never say “That’s the way we have always done it.” If it ain’t broke, leaders still seek ways to improve it. A good leader does not change everything; a good leader challenges everything.

Here are a number questions to ask your executive board members, advisors, and/or co-workers as you seek to be more innovative in this upcoming academic year:

  1. What programs have we put on in the past few years that we are no longer excited about? Remember, just because it’s a tradition, doesn’t mean it’s good.
  2. What events do we do more out of a sense of obligation than out of “our organization gets a lot out of this”?
  3. How can we utilize our more experienced members to make sure they feel valued in our organization?
  4. This year, what will we be great at?
  5. Who are the key players that we need investment from to help make sure that happens? (Note: Everyone is not the answer.)
  6. This year, we will waste less time doing what? How?
  7. What is a new way that we are going to make the members of our organization feel like they have a role in its success?
  8. One idea for my organization I’ve always had but was always afraid what others would say about it is… (Hint: this is the year, bring it up, get buy-in, get it done)

I would love to hear your thoughts about this and/or answers to some of these questions so tweet at me, @JamesTRobo, and let’s start the conversation!


Learn more about James Robilotta and his student leadership keynotes at campuspeak.com/robilotta.