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Three Hidden barriers to Successful Leadership

Success baggage

Success baggage is habits and behaviors that have consistently worked for you in the past but no longer create the results you now need. They are often so imbedded that you do them automatically and probably still work in a limited fashion.
It may be skills you learned as an individual contributor that no longer work as a manager or traits that you developed with an experienced team that are detrimental to a developing team. The challenge with success baggage is we usually assume that these behaviors should still work even though the circumstances have changed. (see example)

Unconscious Drives

Success in business requires that we make commitments to goals to deliver effective results. We are all aware of how important this is and how driven we are to succeed. However, we are often distracted from getting the results we desire. Many of those distractions are external and beyond our immediate control, the most challenging distractions however are within us.
Unconscious drivers are sometimes stronger for us than our known wishes for success. These hidden drivers often cause us to live within limits that hamper our ability to be our most effective and achieve our true potential. They can become impenetrable barriers that allow us to come close enough to realize our goals are within our grasp but hold us back from actually grasping them. (see example)

Surrendering your reasonable nature

Most people believe that it’s better to be reasonable than unreasonable. I was taught this from my earliest days. Here’s the problem. What we are capable of usually far exceeds our performance. Good leaders push their people beyond their self imposed limits.
People resist being pushed and will do their best to keep their managers expectations inside their comfort zone. If the leader is possessed of an overly reasonable nature then they will surrender vision for the commonly accepted reality.
The solution is to develop an appropriately unreasonable approach. This doesn’t mean being over the top in your demands. That may work short term but will ultimately drive away your top performers.
To be appropriately unreasonable requires you to:

  1. See peoples strengths and weaknesses clearly
  2. Set stretch goals based on those insights
  3. Mentor and coach without micromanaging
  4. Publicly celebrate the successes; privately discuss the failures (see example)