Obstacles to Effective Leadership

Leadership and Removing Obstacles to Excellence

Identify The Obstacles To Effective Leadership

Identification of the impediment to excellence is half the battle. This may not be a natural skill for some people. However, it can be learned. It takes time, training, and experience. I can definitely remember times early in my career (my first year in the Air Force) when I definitely could not do this or did this rather poorly. My preferred method was to fall back on what I had learned as a kid and had reinforced through early military training: a regurgitation of the rules and regulations and discipline too quickly handed out. I shake my head at myself for those early failures of leadership. Throwing the rule book at someone who is suffering a failing marriage or is grieving the loss of a parent is not going to bring them back to habits of excellence. In fact, it will cause resentment and further disillusionment.

Create A Culture Of Love

The solution becomes something that many may be unwilling to pursue because the solution is found in the realm of the soft skills: a culture of caring or even more bluntly – a culture of love. If the leader truly cares about his people, he or she will be better able to connect with that person and draw out what seems to be the source of poor performance. A subordinate who is chronically late to work because of childcare issues may benefit from flex scheduling. The leader removes that barrier to excellence and the team member responds with enthusiasm and a fresh desire to perform at a high level.

Be Responsive To People’s Needs

The simple fact is that we are human beings and we cannot always be detached from our personal lives the moment we cross the threshold of the office. Compartmentalization is theoretical and does not reflect the reality of work. The caring leader understands that and expects some bleed over will occur in either direction. A connected and genuine leader is responsive to his or her people’s needs and finds ways to alleviate those pain points (sometimes personal, other times work related). This can be done without having to be everyone’s best friend and confidant. There is a balance to this and that is why these soft skills are more art than science.

Disciplinary Action May Be Required

Sometimes, the impediment is identified and it’s the team member’s bad attitude. They may be upset about changes in policy, the pay structure, the benefits or the lack thereof. The leader may be in a position where he or she has no control of these items. The course of action may be some stern discipline to put that team member back on a track towards excellence. If he or she responds well then no further action is necessary. Nevertheless, the leader may want to prepare for the possibility of releasing that person. I don’t suggest this lightly as I have done this a number of times and it is never fun or comfortable. However, the leader is trying to build a culture of excellence on the back of habits of excellence. Extreme negativity from one team member will be an obstacle for the other team members.

Well that was a lot of info just for that first impediment to excellence! I’ll see you next time for more on the next impediment. Thanks for reading and let me know how I can help you no your leadership journey!

-Gene

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