By Lee Colan
Leading from the inside out starts with knowing yourself and not getting derailed by your blind spots.
Leadership is an inside job. In fact, my firm’s logo is a group of three stacked L’s that represent the three levels of leadership: personal, team and organizational. Excellent leadership starts with your personal leadership and self-awareness. Only once you are equipped with knowledge of yourself – your thoughts, values, purpose and emotions – can you optimally apply leadership skills to elevate your team’s performance.
That said, I decided to talk with Robb Holman is who has successfully led thousands of organizational leaders through his exclusive method of Inside Out Leadership. I asked Robb about leadership blind spots and how to overcome them. Here are some highlights from our interview.
What is one of the most common leadership blind spots?
The need for self-care.
As teams grow and responsibilities increase, the temptation is to spend more time learning how to effectively lead those in our sphere of influence. But at what cost? Sadly, many leaders are stretched way too thin, stressed out, running on fumes, and burned out and may not even realize it. Truth be told, as leaders develop, there is only more demand on your time, not less. Therefore, the need for self-care is invaluable. I always say that you can only give what you got. If leaders want long-term vibrancy and sustainability in what they are building, it begins with them.
As a follow up, what’s one thing a leader can do to grow in self-care?
Maintain their balance by guarding boundaries.
In order to know your boundaries, you must first understand your priorities in any given season. Once you understand and embrace your priorities, you can sift through opportunities, obligations, and favors through your ‘priority lens’. Remember that each time you say no to something you ought not engage in, you get to say yes more to your priorities. Here is a great evidence based resource for creating and maintaining good healthy boundaries:
Is there a big leadership blind spot that really affects team culture?
Team members need to know you care–personally.
Good organizations have a professional development track for their people and great organizations have a personal development track that feeds into a professional track for their people. If we want to maximize the potential in each team member, getting to know them as human beings more than human doings is key. What would it look like to spend time monthly with each of your core team members getting to know (and having them get to know you) personally? At the end of the day, it’s all about trust. If we don’t have trust, we don’t have anything. This is one simple way to help build and foster trust based on genuine relationship!
Can you think of a leadership blind spot you have overcome?
The need for intentional gratitude.
Years ago, it seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong at work. I was putting out fire after fire, all day long. And it only got worse. At that time, I was president of a basketball clothing company during the day and a director of a motivational basketball camp business at night. After a particularly tough day, I got into my car and drove 15 minutes across town to run motivational basketball clinics for 30 energetic 5- to 7-year-old kids. I was normally excited to be with these kids, but this day was different. I was wallowing in my problems when I realized that I had the choice to continue on this downward spiral or choose to be thankful. I was determined to be thankful even though my body was revolting against the decision. Out of a willful choice, I started listing all the people and things I was thankful for. To my surprise, it got easier the more I did it and, after a while, I started feeling thankful. When I arrived at the clinic, I had an abundance of energy, focus, and joy.
Those who operate from gratitude are not held back by adversity, obstacles, circumstances, etc. They see difficulties as opportunities for growth and invite others into the growth process. Intentional times of gratitude give way to living a lifestyle of gratitude. I want to encourage you to begin each day with a time of personal gratitude and begin each business meeting with a time of professional gratitude. Watch and see what begins to happen!
How do you overcome leadership blind spots?
Effective leadership consistently engages with humble reality checks. One of the best ways to improve as a person and leader is to ask those around you how they feel when you’re around, how you can better serve them, and what are some primary ways to improve on your leadership. In Jim Collins’ best-selling book “Good to Great,” he shares the secret of what separates great leaders from good leaders: Those who walk in genuine humility.
Ask team members on a regular basis how you can better serve them, communicate more effectively, and provide better encouragement. Give them permission to be honest and transparent because effective leadership is all about remaining a student — and that requires a humble heart and a strong desire to see people become all that they were created to be. A great practical step to take this week is to ask a team member, a client, or a strategic partner how you can improve as a leader, as a worker, and as a person to better serve them. Demand honesty, and be willing to accept that honesty without taking it too personally.
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