How to Break the 7 Barriers of Leadership


Leaders desire what they don’t have and reach for what they haven’t reached.

Unfulfilled passions frustrate.
Drive encounters barriers.

Barriers block the future and frustrate the present.

7 Barriers of Leadership:

  1. Failure to name wins. Fear prevents you from naming what you really want. But, you can’t achieve what you haven’t named.
  2. Unrealistic optimism. Thinking the path ahead is short, smooth, and easy.
  3. Deliverables over developing people. Attaining goals is the easy focus of leadership. People are messy.
  4. Plans without champions. Wouldn’t it be great if plans magically happened? Who owns success?
  5. Ignoring barriers in the false hope they will magically vanish.
  6. Big passion without small deliverables.
  7. Lack of focus.

Breaking barriers:

  1. Acknowledge you’re stuck. Progress is a function of discontent.
  2. Name barriers. What’s preventing progress? Don’t assume you know.
  3. Connect with people who share your frustrations. Common frustrations reflect common enemies. Frustration is more powerful than contentment.
  4. Focus on people. The horses in the barn determine where you can go. Foolish leaders set short-term goals that teams can’t achieve.
  5. Embrace small, simple wins. A small win today is worth two tomorrow. A series of small wins lengthens leadership’s reach.
  6. Make plans by exploring the past. What repeated patterns emerge that must be leveraged or addressed? What are common points of failure or success in your past?
  7. Do more of what works. Breaking barriers is necessary but focus on what’s working. Or…
  8. Stop doing what’s working. When barriers persist, what you think is working isn’t.
  9. Bring the outside in. Find and integrate people who think differently.
  10. Identify and follow champions. Every barrier needs a champion whose working to break it. Competent champions galvanize teams that produce success.
  11. Forget the barrier. Choose a new path.
  12. Change the team. Identify the person who is the barrier and convert or remove them.

Bonus: Create enough wins that barriers become irrelevant.

What barriers do leaders encounter?

How can leaders break through barriers?

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