Take Your Leadership off Autopilot

autopilot off“Very often, human beings are living like on autopilot, reacting automatically with what happens. What interests me about the life of an explorer is you are in the unknown; you are out of your habits.” —Bertrand Piccard

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Autopilot is about habit. It’s about operating based on habit rather than consciously responding to the situation and circumstances surrounding you. When you are in autopilot mode, it’s like you have blinders on; you miss many signs, symptoms, and opportunities. Autopilot plays a role in every area of our lives. It becomes particularly concerning when it starts to impact the behaviors of leaders. So, how can you take your leadership off autopilot?

Be curious

When you are curious you seek out the new, the unknown, the interesting. To the curious leader, the blinders of autopilot are too restrictive; they are thrown aside and exchanged for a new perspective of curiosity. Curiosity helps keep you from operating out of habit.

Be present

When you are present you pay attention to the details of what is happening here and now. When you pay attention your autopilot is shut down. Being present as a leader keeps your focus on what is happening and this laser focus helps prevent you from unconsciously falling into your ordinary habits.

Be engaged

When you are engaged, you are actively participating. Active participation turns off autopilot. It boosts the energy and excitement in which you approach your leadership. When you are engaged it’s much easier to act purposefully rather than out of habit.

Break the Habit

Step out of your habits and into the unknown. Take off the blinders and start being curious. Become focused and present. Be engaged, becoming an active participant in your leadership. It’s time to break the habit and take your leadership off autopilot.


© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.


4 thoughts on “Take Your Leadership off Autopilot”

  1. Excellent advice, Liz! Reading this reminds me that we are all prone to switch into auto-pilot when things are humming along nicely and we forget to be curious. We don’t take the initiative to ask “What else?” or “What should come next?” How much more interesting our jobs and personal lives are when we ask ourselves, “What should I be doing now to make tomorrow better?”

    1. You always have such amazing insights to add to the conversation. Thank you so much, Jane!

  2. Another great post Liz!

    You make a such a great point! When I’ve learned something well, I don’t have to shift or grind mental gears to make it happen. But once I’m in gear and going, I can drive so fast that I miss the adventure.

    Your tips are spot on and help us enjoy the benefit of having learned something well, while staying curious enough to stay engaged, continuously improve, and grow.

    Smiling as I thought of specific times I’ve had the blinders on and the crazy obvious things I missed, and as I pictured times that curiosity opened doors for greater engagement and achievement than I had ever imagined.

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