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Six dangerous explosive devices leaders can step on

Mar 18, 2015 03:14 pm | Dave Kraft

Leadership is full of IED'S.  Here are six of them that amount to dangerous thinking that leaders can step on causing great personal and organiztional harm:

1.  No one is as smart, gifted and insightful as I am

This is arrogance/pride pure and simple, but is often disguised as confidence and capacity. This kind of thinking shuts others out of meaningful dialogue and opens the leader to blind spots they would never see without others’ input. Such a leader soon believes that every idea and thought they have is from God and is the best thought or idea in the room; narcissism in full bloom!

2.  The details are not important, so I’ll focus mostly and mainly on the vision

It has been said that the devil is in the details and that may be true, but success is also in the details. The leader may not have to spend all of his/her time on the details, but they need to make sure that the details are taken care of. Some visionary leaders let details slip through the cracks while not paying much attention at all, assuming the vision and their winsome personality will carry the day.

3.  I need to spend my time on all the problems that need to be solved

No good leader is problem-focused but possibility-focused. But if you are a problem-solver at heart, it is tempting to take care of managing today at the expense of not thinking about the future. Effective leaders are futurist in orientation and let others deal with detailed solutions to nagging problems.

4.  I will set stretching and challenging goals and expectations for those I lead.  If they can’t achieve them, they will be replaced with people who can

I encourage those leaders I coach to set challenging and stretching goals and expectations, but not ridiculously insane goals and expectations. The folks traveling with you on the road toward your vision want and need to be challenged; but if what you are asking them to do is way out of reach, morale and motivation will plummet quickly. General Patton, of World War II fame, was known as a “blood and guts” general. In the movie “Patton,” one soldier said, “Yeah, his guts and our blood!” Are those you are leading traveling at an unsustainable pace?

5.  It needs to be all about what I want, not what those I lead want. I am the visionary leader

Admittedly, a leader has dreams and goals to which he /she will recruit others. But if it is only and solely about what you want while seldom/ever asking those you lead what dreams and desires they may have, you will not have ownership and buy-in.

It was Zig Zigler who said, “You can always get what you want out of life if you are willing to give enough other people what they want.” Knowing what dreams, desires and hopes are in the hearts of those you lead is critical for a great team and a great work.

6.  It’s just the season we are in that we all need to work 80-90 hours a week

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this said, I would have enough to retire. Well, not really, but you get the point. A season of a few weeks becomes the season of a few months, then the entire year, then five years! It’s just an excuse to push people relentlessly toward the leader’s dreams, with no consideration given to the capacity of those being led. I encourage leaders to work 50-60 hours a week, with the rare week where they may need to work 80 plus hours. But if it’s 80-90 hours a week every week, week after week, I guarantee you that bad things are going to happen which could cause everything to come down like a house of cards. God is infinite, but you and those whom you lead are not. Engaging and disengaging, working hard and playing/resting need to go hand in hand for healthy leaders and healthy teams.

Now, take a minute and look over this list.  Have you fallen into one of these dangerous ways of thinking? What will you do to address it?


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