I read an article by Anne Morriss, Robin Ely and Frances Frei. They studied leadership from three different perspectives: how race and gender affect leadership; how CEOs and other senior managers make it to the top of organizations; and how social entrepreneurs can make an impact in the world.
From those perspectives, they identified a number of behaviors that impede leaders from making the impact they desire. Slow developing leaders:
- Overemphasize their personal goals. Their ambition for themselves can often damage their credibility and the trust that teammates have in their leadership.
- Make protecting their image a priority. To protect how they are seen, they play it safe. They won’t do anything risky or say anything risky. They are constrained by “safe” procedures.
- Turn competitors into enemies. They define everything as winning or losing. Thus, they compete to a fault with fellow teammates. The desire to get ahead and competing can serve to dismantle opportunities where collaboration is the more effective strategy.
- Going it alone. Leading can be tough. It doesn’t always go smoothly. So, some developing talent will avoid a “leadership” role by focusing on what they can do without help or teammates. The bad news is that strategy will tire and break down. Most growth and progress begins and ends with leadership.
- Waiting for permission. Some folks are reticent to take risks or make a move without running it up the flag pole. Leaders who advance develop a reputation for courageous action and risk.
I share these today for those of you who would like to lead more. I wrote these down when I read them because I have found these insights to be true.
I have done all of these things at times and regret them.
I see these things done all the time and use them as coaching tips for others.
Are you ambitious to a fault? Do others mistrust you because of ambition?
Are you playing it safe too often? Is there more you could do?
Do you put your ego aside and focus on being a good teammate?
If you aren’t having the leadership impact you wish, it’s good to consider these angles.
If you are coaching a prospective leader and haven’t been able to put your finger on how to advise them to improve, maybe these are good insights.