Four Obstacles to Exceptional Leadership--Part 1

Anthony Mullins
 


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“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them. " - Orison Swett Marden

Every day leaders are faced with challenges to expand their thinking, overcome obstacles and embrace potential growth. It is my belief that leadership hinges upon the potential of success, not the possibilities of failure. Great leaders expand their horizons, challenge and invest in themselves and those who choose to follow them.

As a coach, I am often asked “how can I become a more successful leader? There are four obstacles which prevent leaders from being effective. In this four part article series, we will begin to explore each of the four obstacles:

1. Guilt in Delegation

2. Failure to Lead from Your Impact Zone

3. Reluctance to Invest in Personal or Professional Development

4. “I Can Do It on My Own" Syndrome

Each obstacle presents a different challenge to today’s leader and offers a variety of opportunities for success and failure. Developing a better understanding of these obstacles and how to overcome them will better equip you for the fast changing world of today.

The first obstacle we will explore is: Guilt in Delegation

Delegation is a key ingredient in leadership and is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. Delegation is necessary for your success as a leader and is equally important to the development of those that chose to follow you. Why do leaders fail to delegate? Simply, many leaders do not play to their strengths because they feel guilty delegating. They spend too much time on tasks that would better serve the organization if they were delegated. As a result, they short change the areas where they can make the most impact.

When you fail to delegate a task that you could and should, you find yourself in a situation that does effectively utilize the skills that you bring as a leader. You are too busy doing other things. In order to develop into an accomplished leader, you must delegate.

Remember that:

  • Each person is different. There may be individuals in your organization that would jump at the opportunity to do the tasks that you are reluctant to delegate.

  • Everyone in your organization benefits when you delegate responsibilities that fall outside your core competencies. Thoughtful delegation will allow others in your organization to shine and allow yourself the opportunity to focus on your areas of strength.

    Often times it is both natural and necessary for young leaders to try to prove their worth by doing too much themselves. They want to set the pace, be a team player, and show that they can contribute in many areas. While it is true that they can show leadership by performing tasks that are outside their position, they are not truly impacting the organization in the best and most productive way.

    Delegation is a learned skill. What can you do to master this skill? Evaluate yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? In what areas can you operate that will make the most impact? Next, evaluate others. Take time to get to know them and find out what they enjoy doing the most. What are their strengths? What are the areas in which they could compliment you and through delegation would allow you to excel in leadership? Finally, how can you effectively utilize them? What can I delegate that will enable some else’s strength? With this new knowledge, you can better embrace delegation.

    What and when should you delegate? First, create a time journal for yourself. This journal will provide a clearer picture of where you are spending your time. Once you have the journal, ask yourself these questions.

    1. What am I doing that does not really need to be done?

    2. What am I doing that could be done by someone else?

    3. What am I doing that could be done more efficiently?

    4. What do I do that wastes time?

    Second, delegation is a responsibility. As a leader it is your role to develop and empower others.

    Delegation:

    1. Helps other grow

    2. Establishes accountability & responsibility

    3. Generates greater results

    4. Creates pride and confidence for yourself and those that follow you

    Next, challenge your followers.

    1. People rise to the challenge; let them

    2. Be clear in communication. Delegate tasks in writing whenever possible and always include a deadline date

    3. Give objectives, not procedures

    4. Explain the relative importance of the task(s)

    Finally, stay the course. Certainly, there are times when it might appear easier and less time consuming to do something yourself; however, over the long term, taking the time to delegate, train or enable someone else is one of the most beneficial investments you can make for yourself and others. Ultimately, the strength of a leader is empowering others to obtain greater results.

    ©Anthony Mullins - Elite Coaching Alliance 2005

    Anthony Mullins is the President and Coach for The Elite Coaching Alliance. He specializes in leadership development, business coaching, strategic planning, 1-on-1 coaching, facilitation, inspirational speaking and Christian based coaching. He is the author of the upcoming book “Leadership Links. " Anthony can be reached by e-mail: anthony@elitecoachingalliance.com

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