What Derails Most Leaders?



We can break down the most common failings that derail leaders in the following:


·      Resisting new ideas

·      Lacking in interpersonal skills

·      Do not show enthusiasm

·      Either are lacking in a clear vision or fail to communicate the vision

·      Do not see the value in development for their organization

·      Do not collaborate well

·      Have different expectations for themselves than for others

·      Repeat mistakes because they do not learn from their mistakes

·      Are not star performers setting the bar high enough

·      Often have poor judgment


These shortcomings can be remedied through self-development. Have you unlocked your fullest potential? What is the vital component to ensure your career as a successful leader? Of the 15 competencies of emotional/social intelligence, the key ingredient to unlocking your fullest potential is self-actualization.  Do you know how you would score in this category?  Many C-suite individuals that I coach score medium to low. Are you one of these? And what prevents you from stretching yourself into unchartered territory?


There seems to be a pervasive resistance to cultivating a posture of self-actualization.  Throughout my career and research, I have found two core reasons. Developing oneself requires mental effort and getting out of one’s comfort zone. Basically, we are lazy. We don’t like to have to think.  We like to stay in cognitive ease, a term coined by Daniel Kahneman in his book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”  Cognitive ease is our fast thinking.  Repetition induces cognitive ease and as a result, a comforting feeling of familiarity.  For example, when we learned how to tie our shoes, it required mental effort to remember all the steps and execute them properly. Over time, through repetition, we could tie our shoes without having to think about the procedure. We have become so familiar with this process, we can now hold a conversation or think about our “to do” list and not give any attention to the task at hand. 


What’s the downside to cognitive ease or fast thinking? Kahneman points out in his book that we cannot turn fast thinking off and what happens is:


1. We operate automatically

2. Errors are often difficult to prevent

3. Biases cannot always be avoided

4. There is an excessive confidence in what we believe we know

5. We are influenced by our biases

6. There are unconscious processes going on which explain our   judgments

7. Associative memory is the core of our fast thinking


The second reason for limiting ourselves is that we tend to develop in areas that support our strengths and ignore our limitations thus staying in cognitive ease.  We continue to focus on building upon the strengths that come to us naturally rather focusing on and looking at what needs development by admitting our limitations.


To shift from developing upon your strengths and turn the dial to new areas of growth requires a certain attitude.  You need an attitude that you have nothing to lose by embarking upon developing areas that are weak and limit your fullest potential.  Adopting the attitude that you have nothing to lose is freeing as you step into a mindset of being open to learn new skills and/or a willingness to try new endeavors. In this freedom, you have moved out of your comfort zone. In this new realm, you need to nurture certain characteristics. These are:


·      Having patience with yourself

·      Determination

·      Commitment

·      Developing organizational skills

·      Being open to learning from your mistakes

·      Having confidence in yourself

·      Being realistic in the goals you set

·      Working hard to attain measurable achievements

·      Staying inspired even during setbacks


Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses is the first step. The next step it to focus on what you can improve and spend time daily on working toward your goal.  Overcoming barriers to learning is a new skill in itself, and a challenge for some.  Learning new skills can broaden your opportunities and empower you and move you further along in your career. Once you have grown in a new area, your self-esteem will increase. It is up to you to take the leap into unlocking your fullest potential.  Having an executive coach can propel your momentum through their insights of your limitations and patterns of behavior that stump your progress.  Most important to remember, only you can stall your career by playing it safe.  Remember, Success Starts With You.


What’s the next step?  Take the EQi – 2.0 assessment to learn your score on self-actualization and what areas you can develop.