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Good Leaders Know When They’re Being Bad
Objective self-reflection and assessment are hallmarks of leadership maturity. Only mature leaders can overcome their natural biases and recognize they may not always engage in optimal leadership behaviors. Losing focus, getting lost chasing misguided goals, or growing arrogant are perils all successful leaders must overcome.
The first step towards correcting a problem is recognizing it exists. Leadership coaching tends to focus on the positives. Executive coaching experts help their clients maximize their strengths and minimize the impact their weaknesses have on their leadership.
Teaching students how to recognize their weaknesses and leadership lapses is equally important. When leaders gain this ability, they automatically take their leadership to a higher level, coaching themselves to success.
Recognizing a problem is the first step towards finding a solution.
It’s Not Easy Admitting You’re Bad
Leadership weaknesses are challenging because they sneak up on you. In theory, it’s easy to realize you’ve grown arrogant and no longer listen to your reports, shutting them out of the decision-making process. In practice, with biases and assumptions firmly in place, many leaders can’t engage in objective self-reflection. There is a reason why over half of newly promoted leaders fail within 18 months of their tenures.
Some leadership weaknesses are easier to recognize than others. They are all highly detrimental and compromise the leader’s ability to connect with followers.
Growing Distant and Arrogant
Falling into the trap of arrogance is a real threat for successful leaders. Leadership arrogance represents the path to disengagement and the marginalization of employees and managers.
Arrogant leaders may believe they have all the answers or that their answers are better than everyone else’s. This false sense of superiority lures leaders into over-promising and under-delivering, further increasing the divide between them and their best workers.
With arrogance comes pride, another staple feature of leadership immaturity.
As I have pointed out in my leadership coaching books and posts, immaturity is the root cause of most leadership weaknesses.
Proud leaders grow to assume they have the right and responsibility to act without regard to alternative perspectives. Such leaders fail to listen or act on behalf of their followers.
Losing Sight of Goals
Defining a positive and coaching-focused organizational culture should be the top priority of every intelligent leader. Increasing sales and vanquishing competition are tempting goals for some, however.
Competitive leaders may become embroiled in rivalries with other organizations and sacrifice the well-being and productivity of their teams for what they perceive as higher goals.
Executive coaching urges leaders to focus on well-defined values and principles as the guiding beacons of their companies. Short-term, misguided goals can derail leaders and entire organizations.
Business coaching focuses on the structured growth of organizations, teaching leaders the importance of scaling over potential growth. To make scaling possible, leaders must know what is truly important.
Laser-like focus is the key to success.
Integrity and laser-like focus help leaders and organizations succeed. However, it’s not easy maintaining focus in the face of mission creep and distractions. Realizing when you have veered off-course is an essential leadership ability.
Assumptions and Breakdowns in Communication
Clear, concise, and frequent communication is one of the central tenets of intelligent leadership. When leaders give up the initiative in communication, they leave the ship of their organization without a helmsman.
Seasoned leaders may choose the easier way of relying on assumptions instead of putting in the extra effort effective communication requires.
Assumptions can grow toxic quickly. Offending leaders and managers may start to blame the communication breakdown on their employees’ lack of efforts instead of accepting due responsibility for it.
Giving Up on Building Trust and Relationships
Employees are the building blocks of organizations. Teams are the posts that hold up the structure. By giving up on developing meaningful relationships with their reports predicated upon trust, leaders sabotage their organization and leadership at a grassroots level.
Recognizing you have derailed your leadership, along with admitting your mistakes and embarking on a mission to correct them, are signs of leadership maturity. Only mature leaders can defeat their own shortcomings.