When you take a leadership role you don’t take an oath promising to lead selflessly and act with the good of the whole in mind. No. In reality, taking a leadership role is largely a non-event. Perhaps a few congratulatory handshakes and emails might mark the occasion.
But the occasion of taking a leadership role is a big deal. A significant amount of trust and faith is behind the decision to appoint a leader. The degree of success is predicated on many factors. A significant factor influencing a leader’s success is the beliefs she holds about her role.
Throughout a leader’s career many beliefs will hold her attention and guide her actions. I want to point out five that will significantly limit a leader’s influence on people, projects, and ultimately business results.
Needing to be first This belief places leaders at the center of a team. The leader’s needs are considered before other’s. A leader’s opinions drown out alternative perspectives and ideas. There’s an inability to compromise. It’s a self-centered belief that leaves no room for collaboration, innovation. Relationships suffer.
Needing to be right The need to be right makes a leader argumentative, impulsive. It can cause a leader to be deceitful in extreme cases. This belief dismantles partnerships. It poisons team dynamics. A leader’s need to be right limits success.
Self-worry Consumed by worries of performance, decision quality, or any other leadership act, a leader’s self-worry inhibits swift action. Self-worry, or worrying about one’s self, prevents leaders from easing tensions in difficult times. It places doubt in other’s minds.
Needing to be seen A trend is emerging with these beliefs: they are self-centered. Needing to be seen drives leaders to make grand promises to Boards that make them look good. The need to be seen as innovative or creative, or whatever desired adjective for the situation, overrides what’s important for the team, for the business.
Being overlooked “All that hard work better pay off!” This isn’t really a belief. It’s the sister to Needing to be seen. It’s a fear too important to not include in this list. To let the fear of being overlooked drive reasons for doing good work is to completely miss the point of leading. Don’t focus on being overlooked. Focus on supporting the team and creating an environment that unleashes people’s talents.
At the core of these five beliefs is a self-centered view of leadership. Great work is compromised by a leader who clings to these beliefs. The oath mentioned in the opening may not be ceremoniously conducted. It should, however, be mentally reinforced by any leader in any role.
In these complicated, dynamic times we need leaders of strong character who help others realize how great they are or can be.