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Leadership - What's holding you back?

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Anne Morriss identifies 5 ways that potential leaders, many of them highly talented individuals, create their own obstacles to achieving their potential:

1) Over-emphasizing personal goals

Leadership is not about you, it is about making other people better as a result of your presence. If you can make sure certain systems and cultures are in place, you can also ensure that people succeed even when you are not there. Those who succeed as leaders are those who have managed to shift the analytic focus from themselves to other people.

2) Distracted by personal image

Often, acting like a leader can get in the way of leading – people choose the way they would like themselves to be portrayed early in their career and this original image chosen can get in the way of making their next career step. Acting as you think a leader should act limits the tools available to you to influence others. Morriss uses the example of following the popular image of being decisive as an obstacle to taking a rigorous and careful approach to decision making.

3) Turning competitors into enemies

This can be tempting for leaders, and it can be a method of dealing with day-to-day issues and stress, and can make you feel better. However, your goal is to lead, and this attitude can cause you credibility to take a hit and can disconnect you from reality, leading to a situation where the leader is no longer taking in data through a ‘clear lens’. Morriss makes the suggestion that the best version of you is the one that others will want to be guided by.

4) Waiting for permission

Being unsure about your own decisions and requiring validation or permission from others is a common stumbling block, and one that perhaps affects middle managers and entrepreneurs more than it affects senior managers. Entrepreneurs in particular have to convince an enormous range of stakeholders with their proposals, and are in almost all cases using other people’s resources. A successful entrepreneur needs the audacity to overcome the ‘permission issue’.

5) The fear of going it alone

Setting out ‘by yourself’ can be a scary and relentless experience. It is extremely difficult to do this without a strong personal team around you to keep your energy and morale up. A common issue with many entrepreneurs is what Morriss describes as the ‘delusion’ that they do not need this support, when she believes nothing is further from the truth.

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This article was written by Chris Storey, Marketing Assistant at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in 74 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com 

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