4 Instincts Sabotaging Your Leadership Potential

As you move up into leadership roles, more is demanded of you.  That was true even before a global pandemic and tight labor markets impacted organizations’ ability to attract and retain top talent.

Effective Leadership has never been more important or more difficult to attain. 

Each day brings about new challenges. And we often find ourselves in a state of perpetual crisis management. The stress can be overwhelming…. on you AND on those you lead.

Obviously, the demands on leaders are different than those of individual contributors.  In the leadership development training I facilitate, I often hear anecdotes from rising leaders about the challenges of balancing these demands.

But here is a truth that leaders need to hear. When you make everything a priority – then nothing actually is. Everything becomes a scramble of different tasks and obligations with no real strategy or guiding principle. 

However once leaders realize that some of the things commanding their attention everyday are not actually the most important priorities, they become capable of exerting much more control.  

As a leader, your focus must be more on enabling success for your team, and less on handling the day-to-day operational activities.

The following are a few of the most common instincts that hold leaders back from achieving greatness.   

These misperceptions also may be holding you back from being successful in your role, and from delivering the top-notch results your team, and your organization deserve.

My title gives me instant credibility

Rarely can you get things done on your own. It takes a network of people who can be a resource inside and outside of your team, as well as inside and outside of the organization.  

Building this type of network takes time.  

You have to work on developing relationships with others over time.  You can’t just call in favors when you haven’t invested in building the connections you need to succeed.  If you get into this habit, those you need will run in the opposite direction whenever they see you coming.  

Build relationships based on how you can be a resource to others.  With this purpose, others will gladly help when you need them in the future.  Go deeper on how to develop relationships and Become An Influencer.

It’s faster and easier to just do it myself

You either don’t feel comfortable asking your team members to take on additional assignments, or you don’t trust them to do the job as good as you. Sound familiar?

Develop an understanding of what your team is working on, and make sure their focus is on the most important priorities. Eliminate tasks they don’t need to be doing – creating more capacity and improving productivity.  

To build trust, start with delegating assignments that are not as critical or high visibility.  Work on setting clear expectations on outcomes, and track progress. But, don’t micromanage how the work gets done.  Check out my blog post on delegating for more on these strategies.

I have to attend all these meetings

Going to meetings can make you feel important. But do you really need to be involved with every meeting? If you find yourself attending meetings with several of your team members – then you probably don’t need to be there. In fact, you are probably wasting valuable time that you should be spending on leader-centric activities. 

Here is a tip that will help you immediately improve your team’s efficiency –  even if you’re all invited, you don’t all have to attend.  

Align meeting attendance with who has the responsibility for that area.  Be selective at attending when you’re needed for a decision, when critical information is discussed, or where your management level is required. Otherwise, delegate and give your team some autonomy to manage their tasks within a project. 

I set the direction for my team

Setting a vision for your team is important to get everyone moving in the same direction. The problem is, even though it’s connected to the business priorities, you’ve set the vision for the team.  You haven’t involved your team in defining it. 

 If you want them to own the vision, make them part of the development process.  Then, have them take ownership of the strategies that will make the vision a reality.  Get your team involved using these 5 Traits of Great Teams.

Being busy makes you feel important.  But being busy on the wrong priorities will make you ineffective.  Reflect on the activities that comprise your day.  Are you focused on the priorities that matter most?  

Are you fully engaging your team?  Are you constantly working on relationships?  If the answers are “no, not enough”, then you need to reset.  You’re preventing yourself from achieving your full leadership potential.


She’s a woman on a mission, prepped and ready to help you create resilient leaders and a workplace that is poised to succeed. Having weathered her fair share of corporate and career crises of all sizes, Vivian Blade MBA, MBB, PMP, is a global leadership expert and thought leader who equips leaders with the resilience that inspires teams to recover quickly in the face of ongoing disruption and thrive in spite of insurmountable odds.

Vivian empowers leaders and organizations as a frequent keynote speaker for association conferences and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive coaching and consulting for corporations.

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