After having spent over 40 years in ministry work in churches from 120 to over 12,000 in membership, I realized that I have made mistakes in all sizes of organizations. Each failure was an opportunity to learn. As the saying goes, there is not failure in life, there is just failure to learn. As I was able to apply that specific knowledge to new leadership challenges, I became more successful with each future effort. (See my post Failing is a Pathway to Success.)
Having reached a milestone in life (I’m 65 years old), I have decided that the learning continues. When I was speaking at an event recently with master leadership trainer, Bob Proctor, he proclaimed that, at 77, he was not ready to slow down as some people had suggested. He went on to declare that he was speeding up, because he had more to do and more to learn. He knows more than anyone I know about leadership, however, he has a passion for continual growth (see Bob Proctor’s video at CEO Space).
Learning means that we, as leaders, know where the traps are in the organization. The “traps” are what I use to define decisions that lead to failure. As leaders, we choose to succeed or to fail in many ways. Here are 3 leadership “traps” that lead to failure:
1. Anxiety – When a cow hits an electric fence and gets a shock, the anxiety causes that cow to run and make noise. This anxiety spreads instantly to the rest of the herd. It’s no different with humans. If the leader lets anxiety control their thoughts, then that anxiety spreads throughout the organization. Anxiety also blurs logical thinking. In his research in interviewing successful leaders, Napoleon Hill found that each leader was able to hold a clear vision of their desired result in their mind at all times. In fact, he discovered that people couldn’t hold a positive and negative thought in their mind at the same time. Do not let anxiety control logical thinking and the emotions of your organization. Control it with a clear image of a specific vision of success.
2. Worry – Similar to anxiety. Worry is caused by doubt. I am a “J” as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. When I make a decision, I am at ease. The opposite in that category is a “P.” When a “P” makes a decision, he or she worries that they have made the decision without enough information, even if they had spent endless hours gathering data. The “J” worries about the feelings of the “P,” and the “P” worries about the decision. Worry is not a productive emotion. Know that you have been clear in defining your vision and setting your goals, and have developed a plan for making wise decisions. Trust in the process and make adjustments as needed.
3. Imbalance – This is not about trying to make everything equal, it’s about striving for balance. We are never perfect. We are constantly working on improving our skills as a leader. Keeping our life in balance is one way to be at our best. When we are driven to work continually, we lose perspective and do not have time to evaluate, refine, and revise as we gain perspective. Place balancing times on your daily calendar: time for planning, time for rest, time for socializing and fun, time for spiritual renewal, and time for you. In the big picture, gain perspective through keeping a journal on how you are doing balancing 1) multiple priorities; 2) work and personal schedules; 3) personal factors such as spiritual, physical, social, family, health, etc., so that you feel whole.
This is a short list of emotional traps that keep us, as leaders, from a higher level of functioning. The Transformational Leader influences others with personal skills and integrity, and not with power of position. Be at your best and your organization will move toward the values you model. As James Allen said, “We do not attract what we need, we attract what we are.” Be balanced, confident, and calm. Your team will respond in kind with nurture and time.
Keeping yourself fit to lead is not limited to thinking. Exercise provides much value in other forms. Running (http://michaelhyatt.com/3-non-physical-benefits-to-running.html) provides several non-physical benefits. Keeping a balance spiritually (http://michaelhyatt.com/where-do-you-put-yourself-in-your-list-of-priorities.html) is also a key element in developing leadership excellence. Invest first in yourself. Organizational transformation begins with the leader.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
(c) 2012 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.