3 Prevailing Beliefs that Limit Leadership
What you believe about yourself, others, and events governs your attitudes and behaviors.
Limiting beliefs produce limited results.
3 prevailing beliefs that limit leadership:
#1. Leaders are tough.
Leaders do tough things. Successful leaders do tough things with openness, kindness, and empathy. Navigating tensions between doing tough things with a kind heart is one of the greatest accomplishments on the leader’s journey.
The soft side of toughness:
- Openness: Open leaders listen, seek input, and ask questions.
- Kindness: Kind leaders make it easier for others to achieve great results.
- Empathy – Empathetic leaders know how to take the perspective of others.
Openness, kindness, and empathy are expressions of curiosity.
#2. Leaders tell people what to do.
When the house is on fire, command and control is appropriate. But command and control as a daily practice limits potential and marginalizes the talent.
One of the toughest transitions of leadership is the transformation from giving solutions to asking questions. Early in your career you earned promotions by providing solutions. But the leader’s job is building relationships and creating environments where others provide solutions.
#3. Leaders get things done.
The thing leaders really do is help others get things done.
In many organizations you are both leader and doer. You don’t have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the performance of others. For example, you implement the new initiative and you lead the team to implement the new initiative. You have to execute and help others execute.
Shifting hats from doer to leader means facing the challenge of stepping back so others can step in.
- Ask open questions in meetings.
- Pat people on the back. Do this literally and frequently.
- Remember that the orchestra makes the music. The conductor doesn’t make a sound. (Thanks to Ben Zander for this insight.)
What prevailing beliefs limit leadership?
How might leaders overcome limiting beliefs?
2 things stood out to me.
– As we climb the ranks, we did so by executing well. But when we get into a leadership position, our executing well is helping others execute. I struggle with fearing the perception of apathy or laziness. It’s a constant battle but I am getting better!
– The orchestra makes the music.
So much of it for me is realizing how much I don’t matter as a leader, yet how much I do matter. It’s a totally different mind shift that is tricky/necessary to make.
Thank you, Dan!
Thanks Josh. Love your transparency. Yes, it’s weird to pull back and focus on people when you’ve been so focused on tasks.
You statement, “So much of it for me is realizing how much I don’t matter as a leader, yet how much I do matter.” really captures the tension.
Nice post. Reposted on my FB group for nonprofit leaders!
The use of “the talent” rankles for me, especially after talking about openness, kindness and empathy. “The talent” objectifies people (or feels like it does, like “the wife”), why not just “people”?
Always find a few thoughts in every post that grab me, lead me to Consider your writing deeply. The one that really grabbed me in this post: “Openness, kindness, and empathy are expressions of curiosity.” Me: How does ‘curiosity’ fit with the three leadership chacteristics?
As often happens for me (thankfully), my Considerations lead to ideas that are developed, self-assessed, refined, etc. – leading to some promising ‘nuggets’ among the not-this-time trips to the trash. Eventually those nuggets combine into understanding (agreeing with or countering the original premise) or vision.
In this case, your statement (“Openness, kindness, and empathy are expressions of curiosity.”) now makes great sense to me at least. I see curiosity arising in two way from a leader’s openness, kindness, and empathy. The one caveat: The leader has provided an environment that intrinsically motivates all to engage (very consistent with your blog).
Then, the workers curiosity will be engaged as they seek the innovative useful outcomes for the situation at hand along with the justification for them.
And the leader’s curiosity will arise as the leader anticipates and monitors the workers’ efforts, offering enhanced feedback and asking key questions as a result.
Thanks for posts that encourage learning!
It truly is ALL about making others succeed so that you will succeed.
Unfortunately, in today’s workplace, one has to be very careful with your Tip #2 especially “literally.”
Servant Leadership always has been the right path to sustainable success (success in the broadest sense – ‘for everyone’) and the required mindset to deliver these three tips is at the core of true Servant Leadership.
My question to leaders is how much time & ‘deep’ thought have you (they) given to what personal success ‘really’ looks like.
“Shifting hats from doer to leader means facing the challenge of stepping back so others can step in.” This is indeed a challenge. There used to be clarity between a ‘doer’ and a ‘leader’, not so much these days, somehow this clarity has become convoluted, even lost! It does make me wonder, if the correct ‘doers’ have been progressed to ‘leaders’? Insecurity? Lack of direction, leadership for new leaders? (just my brain thinking out loud).
Thanks, Dan, once again. Your opening point resonates closely with an underlying truth that Attitudes become Behaviors by Choice, not just for leaders but for everyone. And, unfortunately but commonly, while Behaviors are visible, Attitudes behind them are not only less clear, but can further mask the beliefs that established them, and these beliefs are often built on deeply hidden (and possibly unacknowledged) values. No wonder we are all challenged to recognize, enjoy, and develop an effective, productive, supportive and fulfilling organizational “culture.” I chuckled when I realzed the subsequent and real aspect of the orchestra/conductor analogy: until the orchestra starts making music, everyone assumes we’re on the same sheet of music.
Great post! Loved step 2 and 3 about leaders help people. If you are not a nice person to others it WILL show and will effect work rates. Delegating tasks is so important for any leader. The act of trust to others Is a powerful tool.