How do you know when you have become a control freak? A great indication of this not-so-complimentary badge of honor is when your team starts calling you some variation of "(Insert Your Name Here), the Control Freak Show" behind your back.
We often get stuck in our approach to new opportunities by relying upon what comes easily to us and what has worked in the past, whether it is playing a new game, entering a new relationship, or accepting a new promotion. On the other end of the spectrum are the things that despite our painstaking attempts to improve, just don’t budge and we avoid doing. In between this spectrum are your middle skills – the skills that fall between what you already are great at and the things that you are inherently just not good at doing. Your middle skills are the majority of the skills that you have and, with focus and practice, can become your powerful solution for ongoing personal and professional development. Your middle skills can be thought of as hidden strengths waiting to be developed.
For some, the word “innovation” conjures up feelings of open frontiers, the future, unbridled possibilities. For others the word conjures up feelings of dread. Not because they are not interested or excited by innovation, it is because of the pressure that comes with an environment that is driven to innovate faster and better. Tremendous pressure and anxiety exists when people turn a creative, open, and fun process into a specific activity—picture a domineering manager stating to her staff, “Today we innovate and we don’t leave this room until we are done!” No, you cannot force yourself or your team to innovate. Innovation is not a task.
In today’s turbo-charged, nitro-powered, gotta-go world, we are pushed to perform faster and, in many environments, we are rewarded for speed. However, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the right objectives on time if you are not clear on what success really looks like, on the resources required, and have a plan. Taking the time to prepare and identify a strategy to achieve success will prevent truly detrimental derailers and, in turn, help you beat your deadlines.
Leaders past, present, and future are individuals who have faced opportunities and obstacles; and triumphed in the face of these circumstances. Some of these leaders succeeded because they were able to jump over the hurdles in their path by deploying a set of skills that have been tried and true. Great Leaders, however, became triumphant by building new skills and evolving themselves to meet the challenges and opportunities in their midst. This reflects the most fundamental aspects of leadership development – that great leaders observe and adapt. Great leadership requires more than a fixed set of skills, abilities, and traits. Today, underlying all of the requirements of being and staying a great leader is agility – flexible, being able to move and change. Think bamboo in hurricane vs. oak tree.
In the end, nothing will matter as much as the legacy you leave behind. Successful leaders tend to focus on the future, on five-year plans and long-term strategy. It takes a conscious effort to create and leave an intentional legacy and shape what will be remembered from your time in a position of leadership.
Sadly though not surprisingly across the U.S. in companies small and humongous there are tens of thousands of leaders who are doing a lousy job. Some may not know they are doing a bad job and many other leaders know they stink but are stuck; unable or not knowing how to change. These Leaders suffer from Lousy Leader Syndrome (LLS).
Imagine two almost exactly the same people standing in front of you making a presentation. Although not identical, they are both very similar in their physical characteristics, sharing the exact same proposal, using the exact same words, tone, and the same body language. Despite the almost identical appearance, words, and delivery of their message, you are compelled more by one than the other. You wonder, what about the person compelled you to align yourself to one and not the other?
I have been thinking lately about recent Aberdeen Group research that year over year indicates consistent CEO concerns with significant business issues such as innovation, employee productivity, execution, etc. Consistent issues, no surprises, yet year over year the concerns remain the same. Why? Certainly, leaders have the authority to make things happen. Making significant changes doesn’t always cost a fortune- so budget shouldn’t be an issue. These issues are fundamental to company success, share price, and competitive advantage - so prioritization also should not be an issue. What is going on here?