As a consultant and executive coach working with many CEO’s, executives, managers and other industry leaders over the years, I was fortunate to have many open and honest conversations about challenges they faced in reaching their true leadership potential.
Many shared with me that coming into those positions they were very familiar with and understood the popular leadership models and theories, yet as they started in their new roles, they often experienced being ‘stuck’ and unable to advance their leadership skillset to meet their increased demands and responsibilities.
Here are three of the most common sticking points I have come across when coaching leaders, and how they got unstuck.
Sticking Point #1: Upping Your Game
Many things change after advancing to a leadership position. Responsibilities are greater. Stakes are higher. Competition is more intense. Margins for error are smaller.
Most leaders I coached felt this shift within the first few weeks of starting the new position. One mentioned feeling like a college football quarterback who was drafted to the NFL and needed to ‘up their game’ to match the speed and complexity of playing football at a higher level. For that leader and others, they needed to up their game by focusing on the small details they could no longer afford to overlook. Details such as developing better daily work habits, eliminating counter-productive behaviors, getting better at strategizing and prioritizing their work, and working smarter overall.
No doubt, it took time and effort for them to up their game, but it was critical to do so. After making those changes, each one was in a much better position to take advantage of the leadership models and theories that are essential for their long-term success.
How can you up your game as a leader?
Sticking Point #2: Overdoing a Strength
Leaders often got to where they are because they do something exceptionally well or are very knowledgeable in a key area. As would be expected, it’s common for them to over-rely on that strength as a leader, which can become a problem.
For example, some leaders I worked with relied too much on their superior analytical skills to make decisions but overlooked the impact of those decisions on employees’ feelings. As a result, employees did not react positively to their decisions even though they were based on sound judgment. Other leaders relied too much on their outstanding people skills to lead but fell short when it came to backing up their decisions with key facts and figures. Still others were perfectionists who wanted everything to be 100% correct before acting, so often delayed implementation for too long.
I helped each of those leaders find ways to enhance their natural strengths with additional strategies and tactics. In short, they needed to add new ‘tools to their toolbox’ to help them be a successful leader. Just as important, they needed to appreciate when those new tools should be used and understand why each one added value beyond their natural leadership strengths.
What tools do you need to add to your toolbox to help you be a more effective leader?
Sticking Point #3: Making Assumptions
Many leaders I worked with needed to be made aware of assumptions they were making and how they impacted their decisions. Some of those assumptions came from how the leaders were raised, others were handed down by their most influential teachers or mentors, still others came from specific experiences with other leaders they knew early in their career.
There were many different types of assumptions, but most often they related to how to communicate with their employees, what motivated their employees, how and when to deal with problem employees, and how to behave in various leadership situations. Many of those assumptions created problems for the leader because they were unrealistic, based on outdated information, or unique to the leader’s individual work and life experiences.
To address those problematic assumptions, we explored their root causes and discussed whether they were still reasonable to make. During those conversations, the leaders often experienced an ‘aha moment’ after discovering why an assumption was causing problems. They also felt a profound sense of relief after realizing how quickly they could modify their assumptions and positively impact their success as a leader.
Which of your leadership assumptions do you need to re-visit?
When you are ready to reach your true leadership potential call us at 505-377-0015