I was asked recently, “What are some of the negative habits that hinder leaders from being effective and successful?” The top problem I see in my leadership coaching work is leaders overusing a strength. When we over rely on a strength, it limits our effectiveness. This often surfaces early in the coaching process through the results of Leadership Circle Profile, a comprehensive assessment tool I use.

Some common areas of overuse I see are:

1. Need to Control:

Many leaders achieve success by pursuing continuous improvement, excelling in many situations, setting high standards, creating results, influencing others, speaking their opinion even if it is controversial, taking charge and jumping into action. All these are good things and can result in success and promotions. Taken too far though and this need to control can result in:

  • Being overly aggressive
  • Discounting or ignoring negative feedback
  • Believing their own “press”
  • Demanding flawless performance of themselves and others
  • Overlooking others’ aspirations and goals
  • Having a strong need to compete causing them to see everything in terms of winning and losing

2. Need to Protect Oneself:

It’s interesting. People who have self-doubt often over-compensate by maintaining a certain distance from situations and people. They feel they bring value by being smarter than others, finding fault and not getting emotionally involved. They can bring value by cutting through complexity and seeing issues that others miss, remaining detached and observant when things get emotional, taking a wider perspective or offering alternative ways to view situations, and are capable of offering a great deal of wisdom. Taken too far though and this need to protect oneself can result in:

  • Acting cold, aloof or uncaring
  • Distancing others by their judgements
  • Adopting a posture of being superior, more intelligent, better, “right”
  • Holding back their creative expression
  • Avoiding risk taking
  • Holding back their gifts or offering them through a narrow range of rationally distant behaviors

3.Need to Be Liked:

Many people can go far in their careers by being easy to work with and helping others. They succeed by recognizing and responding to the needs of others. being reliable, sensing others’ emotions, going the extra mile, maintaining loyalty, upholding traditions, being easy to talk to and serving others. Taken too far though and this need to be liked results in:

  • Being non-assertive and passive
  • Playing by the rules
  • Acting so as to fit in
  • Submitting to others’ needs
  • Denying their own aspirations
  • Frequently seeking advice and counsel from another person before making a decision.
  • Avoiding risk by not advocating their opinions, not setting goals, not engaging conflict, etc.
  • Expressing disagreement indirectly (passive-aggressive)

The good news is that leaders can regain the value of their strengths and avoid the danger of their overuse through activities that promote self-awareness and change their mindset from one of threat avoidance to outcome creation. For more information please browse my website or Email me. 

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