The Point: While there are a gluttony of behaviors/actions you should be doing as a leader, we thought it would be interesting to take a typical Tip of the Spear contrarian view of what you should STOP doing as a leader. As such, the following seven (7) part series was developed based on executive coaching conversations had with leaders. In reviewing these leadership behaviors/actions, see if you see a little bit of yourself in the examples provided (No doubt you know several leaders besides yourself guilty)… Enjoy!
Leadership Winning – The Double-Edged Sword
As we head into this, the seventh and final post on “What You Should STOP Doing as a Leader” I thought that it would be appropriate to share why we’ve come on this journey. This series was developed as a result of an interview I participated in recently for a leadership publication. During the interview, I was asked one question that really resonated with me: “What’s the number one (#1) problem that you see universally when you work with leaders?” Keep in mind, I’m fortunate to work with some very bright/focused individuals (You might want to call them Type “A”). My answer was a leaders misguided notion of “Winning” at all costs.
Regardless of the situation/context/stakeholders present, the number one (#1) issue I see is leaders that want to win all the time. Not win as in baseball one out of every three… Not win as in the lottery one in a bazillion… But to win each and every time. This obviously is a leadership double-edged sword moment! By wanting to win, inevitably someone else loses. There is no “win-win” only“win-lose.”
As a Leader… You Make the Call!
Here are two scenarios of Leadership Winning, and I want you to make the call (reminiscent of the old ABC Monday Night Football spots):
Scenario 1: You and a group of colleagues are flying into San Francisco for a pitch presentation. In making the reservations, you’d like to rent a vehicle through Hertz (Yes, you are a Hertz Gold Plus member, and membership has its privileges!) However, your entire team has been traveling to/from San Francisco for the last several months, and along the way they’ve had several “bad” customer moments with Hertz, so they want to use Avis instead. You succumb, allow Avis to be the rental car choice for the trip, and sharpen your vision in preparation for why this should not have been the groups choice. The check-in at Avis goes fine, a little slow for your taste, but fine nonetheless. Likewise, the vehicle is nice, not super clean or dirty, but just fine. The car gets you from point A to B, and back to the Airport (point C). Return happens again just fine (But a little slow for your taste). So what do you do? You make the call!
If you’re like most of the leaders I work with in executive coaching, you’ll nit-pick the entire experience for flaws. “Fine” in your leadership definition playbook is kind of non-committal… It’s neither great nor poor, but in the purgatory of suspended judgment (i.e., Bad in your book… After all, you’re in search of excellence!)
Scenario 2: Here’s another example, perhaps a bit more closer to home if you’re a leader that is kept awake at night because of work. You’ve had a less than stellar night of sleep (Read that as less than your typical 3-4 hours of sleep. You do only get 3-4 hours of sleep, right?) Rather than toss and turn, you get up and start working on several initiatives. In the morning, which ultimately comes hours later, your spouse/significant other/friend/roommate awakens and tells you how tired they are. What’s your reaction? You make the call!
If you’re like the leaders I work with as an executive coach your response is probably something along the lines of “You’re tired? You are tired! I’ve been up since 1AM, and you’ve been sleeping like a baby… What do you have to be tired about?”
In your drive to “win” at all costs as a leader, in both professional and personal settings you are out of order/balance/looking at things wrong (Are there really any boundaries that separate your professional and personal lives? No wonder you have no balance!). But ask yourself… “Exactly what am I winning at here?”
Can You Win as a Leader by Losing?
The moral of these examples, and this series for that matter, is for you as a leader to achieve victory more often than failure… To win more than you lose. Key to achieving that goal is to recognize that sometimes, you may very well be more successful (read that as you’ll win more) if you lose on purpose. A loss or failure is a prime opportunity to quality control your processes, insure measurements along key performance indicators are taken/are accurate, and course correct as appropriate. If you’ll take the time to stop, breath, and think before you act you’ll still maintain your power position, be in better control of yourself, and achieve more of your goals.
So in this post, the final post in the series “What You as a Leader Should STOP Doing” we covered leader’s desire to win, which may/may not always be the best option. Think of it this way: Have you ever won the battle, but still ended up losing the war? With “big picture” focus and end-game results in mind, determine your course and prepare to course-correct. One of the clients I worked with was famous for saying “I know that I want to depart from here, and get to there… But I’m not exactly certain with 100% accuracy where ‘there’ will end up being. What I do know is that it won’t be here.” Remember to stop, take a deep breath, and think about your true direction forward for ultimate results!
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.