If the benefits of leadership and team development are so great, then why don't all leaders take advantage of opportunities to invest in their development and those who follow them? Though there are many reason why, I find that these three are the most common.
1. The perception that you don't have time for development. The problem is that this is self perpetuating. Many executives double down on their time when things get challenging in their role. They fall back into an old but comfortable pattern of 'doing' instead of 'leading'. They work harder, not smarter. Unless addressed they will only continue to carry their unfair share of the load while their followers become frustrated doing 'busy' work.
2. A lack of understanding around the leader's contribution. Many executives are efficient, but that's not what they're paid for. Their job is to be effective and there is a world of difference between the two. The effective executive must know what it is that he/she contributes that no one else can and then they must do it with excellence. Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management, unpacks this, and other aspects, in The Effective Executive, a book I highly recommend. Setting strategic direction, inspiring the troops, giving up control and saying thank you are just a few of the key areas the effective executive excels in.
3. Insecurity. This may be the biggest reason. You can state it in other ways such as 'fear of change' or 'lack of humility'. However you put it, insecurity is part and parcel of being human, however, It becomes deadly when it blocks you from growing as a leader. The mantra goes something like this "why on earth do I need coaching, I got here on my own didn't I?". Many executives feel that admitting they need help will somehow undermine their authority, position, or identity, however the opposite is true.
A humorous, yet poignant, example of this is what I call The Fonzie Effect. Ok, for those younger than 50 this may be a stretch, but Fonzie was the uber cool character in the sitcom Happy Days. While he could seemingly do no wrong he also could not bring himself to say it when he was. By admitting fault he would diminish his aura of cool and that was unfathomable. Secure leaders have the humility to get the help they need to be the leader their organization demands.
Howard Hendricks, a famous theologian, was asked "What is the greatest leadership trait?". He quickly answered "teachability". The leader who is willing to always learn, to grow, and become better is the leader who will not remain stagnant, unaware and eventually superfluous.
How about you? What's stopping you from investing in your leadership development?
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