Guest Post by Glain Roberts-McCabe
A problem for many successful people, in my observation, is knowing when to let go of the need to win. That high drive to achieve results gets translated into all aspects of work life (and even home life), and we can find ourselves winning the small battles but losing the war. Winning comes in a variety of forms and, if you’re naturally competitive, you may not even realize just how much you’re trying to win all the time. Here are some thoughts: let someone else own the idea. Let another department get the headcount. Learn to compromise. The long-term effects of building collaborative partnerships and relationships will far outweigh the short-term win of the argument.
5 Dumb Reasons Why Smart Leaders Derail
The problem with being smart and successful is that, well, you’re smart and successful. It really is possible to have too much of a good thing in one’s career. Case in point: Oprah Winfrey. After dominating the afternoon ratings, Winfrey decided to launch a network. Not a new show. A whole TV network. It didn’t go the way she planned. If even titans like Winfrey can have a career misstep, so can all of us little people. There are countless books written on why people fail, but in my experience (both personally and from working with a variety of leaders over the past two decades), there are five key factors that seem to trip people up consistently.
1. Overestimating the Importance of IQ
For anyone who believes that they’ll be a successful leader because they’re smart, here’s the newsflash: only if you’re über “Elon Musk” smart. The rest of us need EQ. IQ is what gets you to the table. It’s your ability to work with others—emotional intelligence (EQ) or “how” you lead—that will make you successful.
2. Underestimating the Importance of Culture
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: culture will eat strategy for lunch and it will eat leaders, too. The more senior you get, the more important it is that you have the ability to navigate the politics and relationships that drive an organization’s culture.
3. The Syndromes of Superhero and Imposter
Superheroes take on more and more and can’t say “no.” They stretch themselves until they start derailing on the things that they used to be good at and end up burning out and getting bitter. Imposters are driven by the fear of being “found out.” They can derail by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-sabotage.
4. Believing Your Own Hype
Too much success can create out of control egos (delusions of significance). You start to believe you’re untouchable, unbeatable. You ignore trends, emerging technologies, and changes in client needs. You get stuck resting on the fumes of prior success.
5. Overusing Strengths
Overused strengths become liabilities, and relying on leadership techniques that worked well for you at one level of leadership may be less effective at another. As you enter mid-career, the stakes get higher and missteps get costlier. Being proactive can help you avoid costly career-limiting moves and enjoy increased career success throughout your mid-career and beyond.
Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?!: leadership truths on how to drive, survive and thrive. The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.
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Why Smart Leaders Derail: Avoiding Career Pitfalls