Leadership – What Are You Afraid Of?

Leadership Excellence Trust

FEARThis may seem like a strange statement to some people; but it really is not strange at all to some of those in leadership positions and others who are candidates to fill a leadership position.  Many people fear leadership.

You might be thinking that I am going to tell you how ‘leaders’ fear making mistakes or perhaps they fear the accountability of being a leader.  There is no doubt that many leaders do have these fears; but I want to talk about those ‘leaders’ who actually fear leadership in the teams they lead.

First of all, this is not true of all leaders.  Those who are true leaders realize it is their responsibility to develop the leadership skills of the people in their organizations.  Exceptional leaders focus a lot of time helping the members of their team develop leadership skills.  Weak leaders go out of their way to suppress the leadership aspirations of the people they lead.  They do what they can to keep their people from developing leadership skills because they fear that those people may prove to be more effective leaders than they are.  They fear that if they invest in leadership development one or more of those on the team might ultimately replace them.  More often than not, these so-called leaders experience these fears because they never received leadership training, or they worked for weak or ineffective leaders and found themselves thrust into a leadership role only because they were the next person in line.  A surprisingly high percentage of those promoted into leadership roles have had no leadership training or coaching.  They work for organizations that believe the myths about leaders being born.  In that regard, they find they have to take on leadership responsibilities with only a vague idea of what is expected of them.  When this happens, the new leaders experience the fear of being held accountable or of not meeting expectations.

There are many people who fear taking on leadership responsibility because they have not had leadership training or coaching.  They have a fundamental fear of what they do not understand.  Perhaps they have watched leaders in the organization fail and fear that they will also fail.  More than likely the leaders who failed did so because no one ever took time to teach them how to lead.

 

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It is true that many people who ultimately move into leadership positions have natural abilities which help them be effective leaders.  Others become good leaders because they learn from the behaviors of exceptional leaders.  But in the same way that professional athletes become the best in their sport through hard work and training, the best leaders become exceptional because of the training they receive, not simply the characteristics they are born with.

How do leaders deal with fear and failure?  15 successful leaders discuss the keys to their success, and I share my journey to $250 million in service revenue.

Click on the photo of the book to learn more:

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Very few organizations are fortunate enough to have a barn full of “natural” leaders waiting to be promoted.  As a result, they are forced to thrust people without natural gifts into leadership positions.  More often than not these are field promotions because a previous leader was lost unexpectedly, or a need is created due to unexpected circumstances.
Given this, it seems odd to me that organizations refuse to invest even a little bit of time helping their people prepare for the leadership roles they may ultimately be forced into. And told to sink or swim.

To be continued…

The Five Most Powerful Ways to Unleash Potential

Leadership Excellence Trust

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One of the most frustrating challenges facing leaders in any industry is the ability to unleash the potential in the people they lead. Finding ways to get their teams to see their own potential and strive to reach that potential eludes many leadership teams. In researching approaches to motivation for my book, A Garage Full of Ferraris, I uncovered the following five approaches used to successfully unlock potential.
1) Educate: People are frequently hesitant to put forward their maximum effort when they are uncertain as to which course to take. A fear of taking a wrong step results in indecision and inaction. Earl Nightingale, one of the greatest inspirational speakers of all time, once characterized knowledge as one of the greatest motivators. The more educated your team is, the more confident they will be in taking action and the sooner they will reach their full potential.
2) Empower: Most people will refuse to take action if they do not believe they have the authority to do so. Many managers are either poor at communicating their expectations or are hesitant to empower their employees for fear they will relinquish too much of their own power. They may not have adequate confidence in their team’s ability to perform tasks the way they believe they should be executed. As a result of the dilemma facing these managers, they send mixed signals to their teams. When managers fail to empower their teams, they get less than stellar results. Managers who are anxious to achieve significant results will show confidence in the people who work for them and clearly encourage them to take action. When people believe they are empowered and accountable, and they have been adequately trained, they will frequently achieve results that far exceed expectations.
3) Listen: When managers do not listen to their teams, they send a message that they do not value their input. When people feel that their input and ideas are not being listened to or valued, they will not be motivated to move forward. Managers who take the time to listen to the members of their team show that they respect the ideas that are being put forward, and by so doing they instill confidence in their team. By listening they become aware of obstacles that may be keeping their employees from taking action. With this knowledge, the manager is able to remove the obstacles, thus enabling the team to move forward more rapidly.
4) Trust: Trust is one of the most powerful motivators. When people feel trusted, they will respect themselves and feel more confident. With this confidence comes the inspiration to take the action and risks needed to achieve extraordinary results. When people feel that their managers do not trust them, they lose confidence and are less inclined to take action or risks. Lack of trust can also produce debilitating fear. A side benefit of showing trust in people is the reciprocal affect – people who have the trust of others tend to feel the same way back. When people trust their managers they are less likely to question their mandates and therefore less likely to hesitate in taking the actions needed to reach their goals.
5) Believe: Communicating that you believe in your team’s ability to accomplish a goal is key to instilling confidence in them. When people receive a clear message that their managers believe in them, they will begin to have confidence in themselves. Their belief in their own ability to succeed will inspire them to take the actions necessary to reach their potential. In most cases, this belief will help your team reach far greater results than they would have believed possible without that expression of confidence.