Marshall Goldsmith, in his book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, outlines twenty-two things that leaders do that cause them problems in their leadership. Most of these are not done with intent to harm others in the organization,or their own career, but too frequently, that is the result. I highly recommend his book.
I would like to add the following list of things that I have experienced in my executive coaching career that frequently have similar results. This blog does not allow much room to expand on them, but each of these is accompanied by multiple stories of the impact on real leaders. Those who reached out to an executive coach to assist were much more successful than those who allowed these issues to persist unchecked. That is why I site the last of these as the greatest problem of all for leadership effectiveness.
- Becoming too far removed from those they lead
- They lose the capacity for empathy
- Being unaware of the needs of others.
- Whether this is unintentional, due to their personality, or being overly focused on the scoreboard, it leads to the same impact, loss of credibility, and being seen as cold, insensitive or even psychopathic.
- Falling in love with the illusion of themselves.
- As ugly as this sounds, most leaders plagued by it don’t even see this in themselves, because few are willing to provide them with honest feedback. And that’s for a lot of good reasons.
- Ignoring the power gap that comes with their position and authority.
- Again, often unintentional, but leaders who think they are just one of the guys, or fail to understand the magnitude of the impact of their words and actions are destined to either run good people off, cause them to freeze up, or derail themselves.
- Impatience with the processes required for their organization to function effectively.
- These are leaders who keep throwing, what I have come to call E-Grenades, into their organization, blowing it up and being surprised or frustrated with their people or the result.
- An absence of, or an ill-defined philosophy of leadership.
- These leaders either lead by the seat of their pants, or who hold to a philosophy that believes their employees are less than competent and unmotivated to succeed.
- Being too insecure to lead.
- These leaders are threatened by the competence of the people they hire. The result is they lose good people, their department remains in chaos, and they ultimately derail, all while frantically trying to keep that from happening.
- Forgetting that they, too, are human.
- I guess it’s my Biblical up-bringing, but I believe and have witnessed our natural tendency toward self-centeredness and self-protection. Without a clear acceptance of this and a concerted effort to change, leaders are headed for disaster.
- This is the greatest challenge facing most executives and leaders. Some of it is due to the position. Some of it is due to a unique personality style. Some of it is self-imposed due to fear or pride. Leaders who don’t have a true confidant who will provide them with candid feedback and coaching regarding their professional life, and their personal life where it impacts their professional life, are flirting with disaster.
The easiest thing to say when reading this is, “Whew, I am glad that I don’t do any of those things.” But the reality is, that leaders often have blind spots in these areas, where they don’t see these things in themselves. They simply see their intentions, and believe they are okay. An executive coach, utilizing assessments and 360 surveys can help leaders break through the blind spots and ensure they stay on the path to effectiveness. So whether its these issues, those outlined by Marshall Goldsmith, or simply for a leadership tune up, consider engaging an executive coach, if for no other purpose than to prevent isolation, which is often the precursor to greater problems down the road.