04 Dec 2013

The Advisor’s Corner – Am I an At-Risk Leader?

The Advisor's Corner No Comments

At-risk leaderQuestion:

Is there a way to tell if I’m an ‘at-risk’ leader?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

Sure. You can ask yourself the questions below to get a good start and then you can and should regularly ask for direct or anonymous constructive feedback from your direct reports, peers, leader and others. You attitudes and behaviors are the biggest differentiators for leadership success. The four well researched core emotional intelligence metrics of: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management are directly correlated with successful or failing leadership.

Here are some key attitudes and behaviors to pay attention to because just being proficient in your technical area of expertise ignores the fact that a leader’s success is highly dependent on others’ contributions.

Ask yourself, do I…?

Read/understand emotions and recognize the impact of them on self and others. By developing an accurate view of, and aptly managing, one’s own emotional responses to situations, the rest of you skills and talents are magnified and leveraged. You regularly seek feedback and acknowledge when your impact and intent are out of synch. ?

Know your strengths and limitations. The best leaders understand they can never know and do everything… and don’t pretend to. Instead, they recognize what they are good at and leverage those skills. You surround themselves with people who are smarter and more experienced in areas where you have gaps, and you listen to them.

Know and have a good sense of your own self-worth and capability. There is a big divide between confidence and arrogance. Confidence comes from a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness. Arrogance comes from fear in many cases, and a sense of entitlement in others. You are confident based on an objective, not assumed point of view.

Think and act with optimism – see the ‘upside.’ There are two kinds of world view attitudes people project in the world—those who think and act through the lens of abundance, and those who think and act through a lens of scarcity. You go for solutions, new ideas, and silver linings, even in the worst of times. You may change course, but you never give up. You thoughtfully navigate your staffers to a better place – often to places they didn’t know or believe possible.

See and seize opportunities for contributing to the greater good. Despite conventional thinking, great leaders have low ego needs precisely because of their solid confidence and self-worth. You don’t waste time and energy shining up your image. Your integrity is without question. You are willing to partner with others and you listen with an objective and compassionate for the greater good of the organization.

Or Do I…?

Discount others’ emotions and perspective. Failing leaders don’t pick up on other people’s signals. Or, if they do, they don’t care, demonstrating a fundamental lack of empathy and social awareness. You cannot be a good leader without empathy, period.

Miss key organizational clues, norms, decision networks and politics. ?These ‘leaders’ have very little emotional intelligence in terms of self-awareness and organizational awareness. You are missing clues, haven’t developed a wide network, and operate more like individual contributor than a leader.

Blame others for outcomes. Failing leaders don’t ask; they tell. You need to make someone wrong to be right. The difference between accountability and blame is the way the issue or problem is approached. You go for blame not solution.

Avoid dealing with and resolving conflicts. ?Failing leaders avoid dealing with conflicts and don’t provide constructive feedback to others. They duck key relationship issues. You often think, “If I ignore it, it will go away.”

Isolate myself and/or my team from others in the organization. You think you and/or your immediate team are better/smarter/righter than everyone else. These leaders are happiest in their ‘silo,’ rarely sharing resources or knowledge. You believe no one understands you or your work.


About the Author

Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].


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