More Common Senior Executive Roadblocks & Solutions

Last week we began a discussion of business consultant and coach Clyde C. Lowstuter’s  7 roadblocks to executive success. This week we’ll take a look at the last four challenges, all of which can be overcome with a little effort and self-awareness.

4.  Inauthenticity

We all hear a lot of talk these days about authenticity. Self-help books and gurus encourage us to discover our “authentic selves” or our “authentic lives”. But what does that actually mean? According to Lowstuter, authentic individuals are brimming with passion, confidence, boldness and transparency. Conversely, inauthentic individuals may be hesitant to reveal who they really are. 

In the workplace, this can translate into a leader who doesn’t hold herself responsible for confrontations she may have started, has something to hide, or isn’t truthful about her true thoughts or feelings—all of which can leave coworkers feeling manipulated or uneasy.

The antidote? Answer this question: Who in your life models authenticity and seems at ease in her own skin? Observe her behavior and consider how you can emulate it. Also, notice when activities or conversations feel natural and easy—chances are you were really being yourself.

5.  Poor Communication

Lowstuter identifies poor communicators as those with the following traits:

  • An inability to deeply consider issues; context and nuance seems to elude them because of inexperience or other reasons 
  • The tendency to only think tactically, or to see only quick fixes while negating the larger picture
  • A fear of public speaking with no skills or “tools” to work with the fear

The antidote? Practice speaking on issues or topics about which you are passionate, whether or not you have a public speech planned. When in conversation with colleagues, shine the light on others rather than on yourself.

6.  Low Impulse Control (LIC)

Low impulse control is an inability to control one’s urges. In the workplace, LIC can lead to inappropriate blurting, one-upmanship, short-term thinking, difficulty staying focused and gossip—none of which should be indulged, especially by leaders. Those with LIC may think they’re impressing people with their knowledge and expertise—or their access to the latest scoop—but in fact they’re losing the trust and respect of their colleagues.

The antidote? Pay close attention to your own behavior. If you have a tendency to blurt out the first thing that pops into your head, Lowstuter recommends “hitting the pause button” each time you interact with others. Try to keep a lid on your emotions and practice being more pragmatic when solving problems. For every time you insult or spread gossip about another, find something positive and supportive to say about someone else.

7.  Superior Attitude      

Possessing a superior attitude is like living with a spoiled child in your head. That child believes he is the only one who has anything important or interesting to say, or is the only one with worthwhile ideas. Like someone with low impulse control, an individual with a superior attitude may be surprised when their colleagues aren’t impressed with their behavior and consider them arrogant. Having a superior attitude makes a leadership position a very lonely place to be.  

The antidote? Know that no one— including you— is perfect, and try to lighten up a bit. Once again, practice taking the focus off of yourself. Seek out your colleagues opinions, listen closely, and make an effort to compliment their strengths or ideas. You’ll be amazed at how much weight is lifted from your shoulders. 

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