There are many types of leaders and, yet, very few of the leaders I meet have consciously chosen the type of leader they want to become.
Without consciously choosing the type of leader you wish to become, and then acting in a way that aligns with your choice, it’s easy to be led by past behaviours or another person’s idea of how a leader should behave.
Here are 3 common mistakes corporate leaders make and how you can avoid them.
1. Working in the team and not on the team
Leaders have often climbed the career ladder by delivering good technical work. This can lead to managing a small team, and eventually a larger team, department or project.
The problem is that before being promoted to manager and then leader, there is often little guidance on how they should operate differently. So, having been promoted for their technical expertise and working hard, new leaders continue to operate this way and in turn neglect leading their team.
Being successful in a leadership career is not just about being the expert that people rely on and delivering good work. It’s about understanding what lifts your energy, what drains it and how to direct it, and then curating a culture in which your team can do the same. To have meaningful impact as a leader, learn to consciously direct yourself and your team, and find meaning in your work beyond the outcomes.
2. Acting reactively, not proactively
Living in times of uncertainty, many leaders are scrambling to respond to changes in the workplace and in life. The key to leading your team through the waves of uncertainty is resilience. Many people think resilience is about pushing through, standing firm and not being affected by change, but this is simply impossible in an uncertain world, and is exhausting (the very opposite of resilience).
True resilience is about overcoming adversity despite fear and doubt. I love this quote by Rick Hanson:
“Each one of us is like a sailboat. When the waves of life come, do you get rocked, or do you get capsized? The difference is resilience.”
To successfully navigate change, authentic leadership requires you to be proactive, rather than reactive. Instead of waiting for the next lockdown to hit or wondering when working from home will end, develop and implement a strategy to manage your resilience. This will ensure that when changes do come, as they most certainly will, you respond rather than react.
3. Going it alone
In order to grow as a leader you need a few people around you that can help you navigate your blind spots. We don’t see ourselves as others do. This includes your true value in the innate strengths you bring, and when you overuse those strengths, which can hold you back.
Seek out successful leaders that share your purpose and values to act as mentors. If you find that you are constantly encountering the same roadblock or situation, seek the help of an executive coach. These situations often recur because we have not taken the opportunity to understand the learning and growth we need to transcend the situation.
Reflect regularly on your leadership vision, journey and growth. Be specific about the type of feedback you want to receive and don’t be afraid for your mentor or coach to compassionately hold up the mirror so that you can see your blindspots.
As a leader, there are many demands on your time and energy. Unless you consciously choose to focus on your leadership development, your past (as a technical expert) will limit your future. To have a different future, you must make different choices in the present.
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