4 Reasons You May Not Be Getting Traction as a Leader
Even with billions of dollars of corporate investment in training, leaders at all levels can still find themselves in ‘leadership traps’ that only come to light once key performance indicators, revenue or bottom–line contribution start trending in the wrong direction.
I recently learned about leadership from Vicki Brackett, author of The Leadership Toolbox and consultant for businesses facing leadership challenges. She has identified four reasons that cause leaders to fail and provided suggestions on how to fix these issues.
Living in an Ego Cloud
Hiding behind an ego is an easy way for a leader to make problems someone else’s fault. Instead of pointing the finger and blaming a lack of results on employees or the economy, Brackett says a good leader can face the pain of self-failure. She says, “A good leader will take ego out of the picture and ask himself or herself how he or she may be contributing to the problem. Once a realistic view of the situation is seen in the mirror, and the ego cloud is wiped away, the steps that need to be taken to rectify the situation become clear.”
Rallying the Wrong Troops
When something goes wrong at work it is natural to share the experience with friends and family. Whipping them into a defensive frenzy, however, does nothing to bring clarity to the situation. It just perpetuates the problems a leader is facing. Instead of searching for a biased, ‘on my side’ response from family and friends, Brackett recommends giving a neutral overview of the situation when calm. She warns against getting caught under the cozy ego blanket that loved ones can provide because it will suffocate true leadership.
Over and over again Brackett says she comes across people in leadership roles at companies who define leadership as always having the answer to every question and every problem. This is a mistake. “Your job as a leader is never to have all the answers,” says Brackett. “Your job is to know who on your team to go to get the answers. Your team will always be able to identify the gaps better than you because they are the ones on the ground executing.”
Planning Without Input
Brackett’s final tip ties into using team members to identify gaps. Once the gaps are identified, the team can help create a plan for resolving them. “If your team creates the plan, they own the plan and they will get better results,” Brackett states.
It is important to recognize that being a great leader takes hard work. It is all about elevating team members to perform at their best, not about the leader’s ego. By showing leaders where they can go wrong and suggesting ways to mitigate those mistakes makes the whole team stronger.