Of the challenges faced by senior executives—or all professionals, for that matter— it’s fair to say that many are self-created. Blind spots in your leadership style, the way you interact with colleagues or perform your job can leave bad impressions, or even damage your career.
But according to business consultant and coach Clyde C. Lowstuter, these challenges are largely fixable. While you can’t perform perfectly all the time, you can be aware of damaging behaviors and work to improve your performance.
Lowstuter has identified seven roadblocks that senior executives often create. I think “create” here is key—it means we’re the ones doing behavior. This is refreshing, seeing as it’s much more possible to control ourselves than it is to control others!Read on and see if you can see yourself reflected in any of these roadblocks. If so, what can you do to mitigate the problem?
1. Cultural Insensitivity:
Every company has a unique culture and— unless you founded the company— it was there long before you were. A company’s culture evolves from the shared values, practices and behaviors of its employees. When you’re new, you’re largely unfamiliar with that culture. Sure, you may have glimpsed it during the interview process, but that doesn’t compare to the familiarity other employees have gained over time.
When you’re new, you must take extra steps to adapt to the unique culture of the company. Lowstuter warns that dismissing these cultural subtleties may be reflected as a lack of awareness, commitment or respect. The antidote? Listen more than you speak. Reserve your judgment— at least for the time being— and pay attention to employees’ behaviors and ideas. Take time to really understand the company values and behaviors before making pains to change them.
2. Underdeveloped Leadership Competencies:
According to Lowstuter, a competent leader possesses:
- Clear long-range plans
- Organizational clarity
- Ability to confront difficult people or issues
- Capacity for strategic thinking
- Efficient decision-making skills
A lack of one, some or all of these competencies can seriously hinder a company’s progress—not to mention the progress of your career. The antidote? Consider working with a coach or mentor to get yourself up to speed— as an executive/ leader, you can’t afford not to invest in your professional development.
3. Narrow Behavioral Response Repertoire:
A behavioral repertoire is a set of skills or behaviors we commonly employ in social situations. If our repertoire is “narrow”, Lowstuter says, we have a low capacity for changing our behaviors. For executive leaders, this could mean being defensive or stubborn in an effort to resist change—in ourselves, in our company or both.
But we all know that change is inevitable. The antidote to rigidity? Lowstuter recommends takingrisks in our behavior and embracing different viewpoints. If you find yourself tensing up in the face of change or opposition, try to relax and consider the possibilities.
Next week we’ll review the next four roadblocks. In the meantime, do any of these ring true for you?