Most leaders I coach are “shining stars” who are already very good at what they do…
And just as even the most stunning, concours-standard show cars require polishing and buffing to excel, so do these shining stars need to do some work if they’re to fully realise their potential as leaders.
All Leaders Benefit From Feedback And Carefully Strategised Polishing and Buffing
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”…
Without feedback about the location and depth of your “scratches”, you won’t have the opportunity to realise your potential.
Whether you think you’re an exception to the “polishing rule” or not, I suggest you stop for a moment—and consider that there will be opportunities for you to polish, further refine your leadership practices and behaviours, and fully realise your leadership potential.
Why am I adamant that there are enhancement opportunities for you?
Read on. There are two key reasons…
1. Ladder of Learning
Let’s apply exemplary leadership practices and behaviours to the Ladder of Learning—a model a number of you will be familiar with…
|On this step you aren’t aware of the existence of any “scratches”. You don’t know that you don’t know.
|Although “unconscious incompetence” is rather a harsh term, you undeniably have some leadership behaviours that are less than exemplary.|
|Here you’re aware of the scratches, and perhaps have some sense of how deep they are.
You know that you don’t know.
|Because you’ve realised that you “don’t know”, this is the most uncomfortable of the four steps—but it’s also the launch pad of development.|
|The scratch elimination process is working by the time you’re on this step. You’re consciously behaving as an exemplary leader behaves.
You know that you know.
|You’ll notice it’s quite exhausting sitting on this step, especially if you’re consciously working on numerous behaviours simultaneously— simply because you need to think things through so much before you take action.|
|This step has you automatically behaving as an exemplary leader behaves.
You don’t know that you know.
|Here’s when you can relax and let your unconscious mind take over. An exemplary leader has most, if not all, of their practices and behaviours on this step.|
The Ladder of Learning puts a frame around the Step 1 issues that sit between you and exemplary leadership—issues that you’re are not the slightest bit aware of.
It’s like not being able to see the spot on the end of your own nose.
How is it possible that you’re unaware of your spots and scratches that would benefit from polishing? This is where the second key reason kicks in…
2. CEO’s Disease
CEO’s disease is when the CEO’s position inhibits their team members from directly giving them candid feedback. Although you may not be a CEO, as a leader of people it’s highly likely that you’ll have a little or a lot of the virus too!
By the way, hardly anyone thinks that they have this virus, and I’m certain that you will be carrying some of it. I say this with good authority, given the number of times I’ve collected feedback from a leader’s team members.
This lack of candid feedback is the principal reason leaders, including even very successful leaders, have development opportunities. They all have some less-than-effective practices and behaviours sitting on their “unconsciously incompetent” step that they haven’t been made aware of.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Here’s the bottom line: Every leader, even shining stars, needs a mirror—a mirror that will give them an accurate picture of where they’re highly effective and where they could be more effective. Without this mirror they’ll probably not ever fully realise their leadership potential!
We’re not just talking about any old mirror here…
Your mirror needs to be carefully constructed so that it clearly eradicates CEO’s disease and advances your leadership practices and behaviours to Step 2 of the Ladder of Learning, where they become conscious and therefore able to be managed, paving the way forward to Steps 3 and 4.
Remaining on the “don’t know that you don’t know” step isn’t very useful. And sitting on the “know that you don’t know” step is somewhat painful. Yet you need to be there, at least momentarily, so you can realise your potential and step up to “conscious competence” and eventually “unconscious competence” regarding exemplary leadership practices and behaviours.
My experience clearly indicates that your most effective mirror, by a long way, flows from conversations in a very specific type of 360 process—conversational discussions, about carefully selected leadership practices and behaviours, with a valid sample of observers who are certain of their anonymity and are given the opportunity to describe specifics, the consequences of existing behaviours, and what they perceive would be ideal.
Many of the leaders I work with say this type of 360-degree feedback is the most insightful process they ever go through in their career. Gosh, it’s effective! Beware though—although I’m compassionate, kind and caring when holding up the mirror, it’s not for the feint-hearted, ever-so-sensitive leader.
Just send me off an email if you want to talk through your particular situation, or those of a leader in your team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.