When we ask leaders what they consider to be their biggest strengths, they usually declare a mix of drive, or focus, or creativity. Sometimes they proclaim solutions-orientation, strategic-focus, or risk-taking. You know, the usual suspects. You are likely agreeing with most of these attributes and sentiments as you are reading this article and ascribing a few of them to your own particular leadership skills and competencies.
However, did you know that any leadership strength displayed or performed to an excess can quickly morph into your single biggest leadership weakness? That most powerful innate leadership competency that you have been so proud of these past years which has been the cornerstone of your leadership style and success and which has fueled your meteoric rise to the top can, without sufficient care, eventually lead to your ultimate downfall.
Assertiveness for example, without a good deal of self-awareness, can easily grow up to become belligerence or pig-headedness. Confidence, without the correct level of impulse-control can transform itself into overbearing arrogance. Risk-taking without self-discipline and restraint can slide into desperate speculation, foolhardiness, recklessness, profligacy, and gamble. You get the idea, I’m sure: if not, then maybe the issue has already become more deeply seated within you than you might care to address.
Are you over-egging the leadership pudding?
Assertiveness overdone can become an overbearing arrogance, or domineering style. What was once a good balance between passion and drive can evolve into intractability or obduracy, stubbornness, or bullheadedness. Focus can become mania, unhealthy fixation, or, weirdly, it can lead to crippling blind spots. Previously useful discipline can ripen into inflexibility, intransigence, and an inability to show the correct levels of caring or empathy. Even something as valuable as creativity and originality taken to the extreme can lure the unwary leader down the treacherous path of inconsistency, loss of focus, and into a dreamy fantasyland disconnected from the norms and realities of market dynamics and corporate good governance.
How do leaders know when their previously healthy levels of belief, conviction, and certitude are in danger of tipping over into unhealthy and unhelpful levels of megalomania, hubris, and egotism? One thing’s for sure, if it is, your people are not likely to tell you. Who wants to invite that kind of aggravation into their lives, after all? It’s another case of ‘The Emperors New Clothes’, by Hans Christian Andersen with all of the townsfolk having to go along with the King’s self-delusion for fear of inviting his (your) wrath.
Are you under-egging the leadership pudding?
This isn’t the only problem, for when we ask these same leaders to consider what their biggest weaknesses might be, they oftentimes struggle to be so definite in their thinking. Don’t we all typically find it easier to identify strengths in ourselves rather than weaknesses? Aren’t we normally proud of our positive attributes – happy to discuss them at length with anyone prepared to listen? But aren’t we all typically less forthcoming when it comes time to explore our biggest shortcomings and gaps? I know that I am.
Take a leaf from your doctor’s prescription pad
Whenever a patient presents to a doctor, the physician starts by taking a full history. And, if the complexity of the case warrants it, the doctor will likely look deeper into the issue by ordering a series of other diagnostic tests such as bloodwork, x-rays, MRI’s and the like.
In requesting the extra screening processes, the doctor is trying to better define and properly understand the malady in advance of prescribing their particular solution. We all understand this. It’s normal. It’s to be expected. In fact, any doctor prescribing medicines without having first run a full diagnostic would be called a quack and quickly defrocked, or disbarred, or whatever the medical equivalent might be.
The principle is this: until we understand the ailment and can define it, we can’t properly hope to remedy it.
Turning the dial takes bravery
Sometimes, as leaders (especially those that want to lead by example) we have to turn down the dial, and sometimes we have to turn up the dial. The question is, which dials need turning up and which dials need a ‘mute’ button?
The answer will almost certainly require stepping outside our comfort zones – there is no growth, after all, inside them. This means that we have to be brave soldiers and take a test.
The best and fastest way to discover what medicine you might need is to take a Leadership MRI – a Leadership Assessment that specifically measures your leadership self-awareness scores and benchmarks you against the best of the best. An objective leadership assessment that specifically measures emotional intelligence, and the top leadership skills and competencies might be just what the doctor ordered.
Visit www.mydailyleadership.com/leadershipassessment ….you know, if you believe like most great leaders that self-delusion is the root of leadership decline, and leadership pride does come before a big fall. Feeling brave?
Edited excerpts from My Daily Leadership: A Powerful Roadmap for Leadership Success by Antonio Garrido. Available in print, e-book and audiobook formats. https://www.mydailyleadership.com/book
Written by Antonio Garrido.
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