7 Ways to Break Destructive Patterns

Lousy leaders solve the same problems over and over.

When problems feel familiar, negative patterns prevail.


The real problem:

The difference between success and failure is how quickly you see and deal with destructive patterns. How many times will you solve the same problem, before you acknowledge the problem isn’t the issue?

The pattern is the problem.

Dealing with problems is the work of leadership. Leadership begins with problem recognition and solution creation. But, leaders who keep solving the same problems don’t see the problem.

Solving recurring frustration and failure distracts from the real problem.

The real problem is failure to acknowledge that you’re solving the same problems.

The root of destructive patterns:

What you did or didn’t do – before you failed – reveals the reason you failed. Don’t solve recurring failures; solve root causes. When you repeatedly fail, in the same way, you are the issue!

What you know:

  1. You were doing your best.
  2. You were doing what you thought was good.
  3. You were doing what you thought would work.

It’s uncomfortable to own destructive patterns because you didn’t plan to fail.

You are the reason destructive patterns persist.

7 ways to break destructive patterns:

  1. Acknowledge your best falls short. (I know. It hurts.)
  2. Don’t blame others. Take responsibility. Own it.
  3. What are you assuming will happen that doesn’t? Why doesn’t it happen?
  4. Expose the pattern to others within your organization. See what they have to say.
  5. Listen to people who are closest to the work.
  6. Bring in outsiders. No one sees you better than someone who hasn’t seen you before.
  7. Identify key success factors. What are you leaving undone? What must stop? What must be done?

Destructive patterns boil down to pivotal moments when poor choices are repeated.

Why do leaders ignore destructive patterns?

What behaviors break destructive patterns?