Excellence is the hallmark of successful leadership. Regardless of the industry a leader operates, as long as he or she meets or exceeds their target consistently, they are successful.
Successful leadership comes in different forms and shapes, and with incredible amount of confidence. Suppose you succeed at something once; say you delivered a fantastic presentation, wrote incredible memo to your boss, or closed a sale; odds are you will believe that you can do it again and again, right? That is totally great if not for the danger in the deceptive belief that past success is predictive of leader’s future performances.
Feeling of success can be delusional and highly dis-empowering. Here’s what I mean…
Suppose management rewards you with promotion in recognition of your brilliant performance at work, tendency is, you could cease receiving feedback from your colleagues about areas of your leadership style or behaviour that needs change. The danger is that as you superstitiously believe to be succeeding, you soon develop habit that irrationally brushes negative feedbacks away, leading to question like: “How come I’m succeeding if you think I needed to change?
Here are three examples of successful leadership whose successes almost eroded further success for them.
Chris was a rising star in the financial reporting division of a major accountancy firm. At thirty-seven, he had a good track record and was popular with his clients. As a result of his brilliance, he was penciled down for grooming into partner position in the firm. But Chris’ aggressive behaviour in the office threatened his career, leading to feedback from a few number of senior people in the firm which he treated casually.
Uche in her early forty was a likable deputy general manager (DGM) with a high street bank. Having worked in the banking industry throughout her career, she delivers satisfactory target and on time. Uche enjoyed teambuilding but found it extremely challenging to manage poor performance and difficult members of her team.
Steve was the managing director of a successful telecommunication company who have strong interest in strategic planning. Having returned from University of Cambridge Judge Business School Leadership Program for senior executives recently, he was ready to put his learning into action and accelerate successes. But Steve lacked people management skill and his colleagues were too remote from him.
The delusion of Successful Leadership
Examining all three successful leadership examples above, you would notice that each has experience, knows what he or she does, and do them confidently. The trouble that rocks the boat at certain levels of leadership is not lack of experience. The trouble always hinges on dysfunctional human behavioral tendencies.
What rocks the boat at certain levels of leadership is not lack of experience, but human behavioral tendencies. [Tweet This]
At high level of performance and achievement, inconsistent behavior becomes the fundamental threat to success. [Tweet This]
Fixing leadership behavioral tendencies
The first step towards helping leaders to change a dysfunctional behavior is to get them see the future they are headed clearly, and the benefits it holds for them, their organization and all key stakeholders. It is crucial also to help them identify the positive motivations to drive them throughout the journey, as well as the excellent behaviours they need to develop to reach there.
The harder part is getting the leader to accept that a need for behavioral challenge actually exists, and hence the need to become more successful. This later part needs application of executive coaching tools to explore the leader’s reality. The coach must have the ability to communicate his or her observations in ways that do not trigger defensive reactions from the leader.
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