Home

Feature Article:

The Joy of Spontaneous Expression
Do you remember finger-painting as a child? How fun it was. How exciting to be able to dip your fingers into a color that called out to you and put it on paper. The excitement of it all came from the feeling that you were an explorer, looking into...
...Read More



 

Two Leadership Traps: How To Avoid Them. How To Get Out Of them (Part 1)

Navigation

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com

Word count: 684

Summary: Most people fail in their careers because of leadership deficiencies. A key reason for their failure is they continually and unknowingly keep falling into two leadership traps. The author describes the traps and how to get out of them.

Two Leadership Traps: How To Avoid Them. How To Get Out Of them (Part 1)
by Brent Filson

You've heard of the Peter Principle: "People are promoted to their level of ultimate incompetence". But what the Peter Principle doesn't tell you is the nature of the incompetence. For the most part, it's leadership incompetence.

A human resources director told me, "Brent, we hire people for their skills and knowledge, but we fire them or fail to promote them or promote them for their leadership abilities -- or lack thereof."

In other words, throughout their careers, people are promoted to take charge of bigger and bigger groups -- until they take over a group that's too big for their leadership abilities.

One main reason they come up short in abilities is they are constantly and unconsciously falling into two leadership traps.

I'll describe the traps, how to get out of them, and how not to get into them in the first place.

The traps can be particularly deadly because they are in many cases self-set -- and even self-triggered. What's worse: the vast majority of leaders who get into them don't have a clue they're caught. It's one thing to be in a trap and know you're in it: You try to get out. But it's a problem of another magnitude to be in a trap and not know you're in it. In that case, you'll stay there.

THE FIRST TRAP: "I need ..."

A marketing leader in a major global company was stumbling. His team was failing to achieve the targeted results. He told me, "The good news is they do what I tell them. The bad news is they do what I tell them -- ONLY what I tell them. Other than firing the worst of the bunch or transferring others out of the team, I can't figure out what to do. And if I don't do it soon, I'll be the one fired or transferred!"

I asked if I could sit in on a team meeting to scope out the situation. "Be my guest," he said. "But I don't see what good it'll do. The problem isn't in the meetings. Everybody agrees what needs to get done when they're in the meetings. The problem is the results after the meetings."

The meeting had been going only for only a couple of minutes when I saw what was wrong. Afterwards, alone in his office, I told him: "They're not the problem. YOU'RE the problem. You've fallen into two leadership traps."

He looked at me incredulously. "What traps?"

I explained that leaders often fall into traps that prevent them from getting the full measure of results they're capable of. And the deadliest traps are often the ones of their own making.

The first trap is the "I need . . . " trap.

Leaders fall into this trap when they say, "I need you to hit the marketing targets, I need you to get more productive, I need you to (fill in the blank)". I NEED ... I NEED ... I NEED ....

Why is this a trap? The answer: the Leader's Fallacy. The Leader's Fallacy is the mistaken belief by leaders that their own needs are automatically reciprocated by the needs of the people they lead. It's a fallacy because automatic reciprocity doesn't exist. But so many leaders go blithely along driven by the Fallacy and so fall into the "I need . . . " trap.

For instance, the marketing leader thought he was motivating people to get great results. However, during the meeting, he was constantly repeating, "I need ... ". So, in reality, he was ordering people to get average results. Of course, leaders don't order people to get average results. But average results are usually the outcome of order leadership.

The order is the lowest form of motivation. The order leader's focus of my-way-or-the-highway can't get great results from people on a consistent basis simply because people usually can't be ordered to undertake extraordinary endeavors. They must choose to do so. When he said, "The bad news is they ONLY do what I tell them.", he was unknowingly afflicting them. They were simply responding to an order then going into a kind of suspended animation (masked by busy work) until the next order came along.

In Part 2, I'll describe how to get out of this trap.

2005 The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


About the Author

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at http://www.actionleadership.com

 

More Reading:


Beware of Disreputable Construction Staffing Companies

Why Some People Dont Take Investing in Their Health Seriously

Why Geography

Floral Design and Floristry as a Career

My Experience With Online Education

 
Online College Degrees

Ways for a Kid to Make Money

New Age Piano Tricks

Theres no such thing as job security

Educate yourself on the toxins in your home

Home

Business Search 
Business

Career
Internet-Marketing
Marketing

Additional Reading


Healthcare Management: A Burgeoning Industry
In an uncertain economic climate, job security is a valuable commodity. But many careers that previously seemed recession-proof have been downsized, outsourced or shipped off to foreign countries. The trick is to find an industry in which the...
...Read More

In Leadership, Identifying Dreams That Lead To Great Results
PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to...
...Read More

The Background on Background Checks
More companies are doing background checks on potential employees these days than ever before. Why? Here are justa few of the reasons: 1. Studies show that 30-40% of all job applicants put false information on their resumes or applications, and ...
...Read More

"So, what do you do for work?"
I remember being asked this question a lot when I was dissatisfied with my career. My usual strategy would be to give a pat answer and immediately turn the question back on the person who asked it. My avoidance of the question wasn't so much that...
...Read More

Three steps you need to know to improve your learning and have better grades.
"I'm a failure" "I'll never make it." That's the kind of affirmation we hear people say. To overcome this feeling of worthlessness you need to make 3 little steps that will help you discover the genius within you. 1. You need to motivate...
...Read More