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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Where Leaders Should Not Extend Themselves

Every leader has areas in which they should avoid or not extend. These areas are like kryptonite to Superman and soon all our strengths are sapped away and our effectiveness drops like a stone. If ego and pride get in our blind spot, we think we are super in every area and can do all things well. This is true of no one. Everyone is better than all of us at something.

The things that hinder our performance are personal constraints because they constrain us from moving forward or possibly seeing the world from a fresh perspective. Personal constraints can exist in our thinking, our language, our decisions and so on. Today, in this article, I am focusing on the behavioral area.

For instance, let’s examine the twelve observable behaviors we have identified and measure in leaders when we work with them. Let’s say we are working with a leader and based on their data, here’s how the order came out on a scale of one to ten:

1. Competitiveness                                                    10.0

2. Frequent Change                                                     9.8

3. Urgency                                                                     9.5

4. Versatility                                                                  9.5

5.  Frequent Interaction                                              9.0

6.  People Oriented                                                      8.0

7.  Customer Relations                                                6.8


8.  Follow-Up/Follow-Through                                    3.5

9.  Consistency                                                             3.0

10.Following Policy                                                      2.8

11.Analysis of Data                                                       2.0

12.Organized Workplace                                            1.0

Looking at the hierarchy of behaviors and related emotions of this leader, we can see which ones are going to either heavily contribute or detract from success in a particular leadership assignment. If we are able to match this data against data for the assignment, the picture would have a lot of clarity. I’ve drawn a red line into the place where the gap between strength and weakness begins to occur for this leader.

Each time this leader extends themselves beyond behavior #7 and begins to get into areas requiring behaviors 8 through 12, the leader is more than likely facing constraints to great to overcome. If the assignment is calling for a majority of the leader’s time to be spent applying behaviors 8 through 12, we have a major leader/assignment conflict and the chances of success is greatly decreased and risk of failure greatly increased.

As long as the leader stays in the behavior areas above behavior #7 and especially behavior #6, the assignment become easy, natural, empowering and most likely, very successful.

As a side note: We could also read this from the top down and see a large drop off from behavior #1 to behavior #7, a 10 to a 6.8 depending on how it would effect a particular assignment.

Side note #2: We have national mean data for all of these and other behaviors, so we have in our knowledge bank where most individuals fall on these scales, so we can identify the zone of performance in each area.

This particular diagnosis for a leader is one which could lead to better role awareness and assignment match for better success. The reality is this person is probably never going to be a lot less competitive or much more organized. It’s a much more effective strategy to play strongly to those strengths and try to not extend into those areas of weaknesses. Even if this person could raise their level of effective behavior for being organized from a 1.0 to a 4.0, which would be an amazing improvement, it would still be way below the gap line for effectiveness. It would simply be wasted time, instead of staying in the area of growth where positive outcomes are being produced.

We all get frustrated when we are not winning or living in our ideal situation. It’s a much more effective strategy to find the perfect situation we can match up with to win big, than try to twist ourselves into a situation where we may be doomed from the starting line.

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