Why do we seek to accentuate the positives?
It may be an interesting realisation, but focusing on the positive can actually have very negative effects. The work we do developing leaders within organisations has allowed us to put a spotlight on this trend.
Putting leaders on a pedestal and exploring how to be as heroic, charismatic, passionate or confident as the leadership ‘greats’ is not enough to develop the specific skills required by organisations. It is essential to also understand the reality of fluctuating leadership performance and the things that can derail individuals.
Very few people can honestly boast that they consistently perform at an exceptional level. That in itself is not a surprise; humans are subject to all sorts of pressures and influences within their work environment, and how they react to different situations is often led by a person’s personality. However, when that person is a leader, the impact of any mediocre performance or poor leadership decision is magnified for their organisation.
Addressing the negative, to fully understand the points of potential failure for individuals, is a far more positive outcome for leadership development than aspiring to demonstrate the qualities of leaders from the past.
In our experience, to be a genuinely great leader demands the highest level of self awareness. There are always aspects of a person’s personality that unchecked have the potential to limit and undermine their leadership performance. It is necessary to know how in some situations, perceived personality strengths will also produce poor leadership performance: a leader who is bold and demonstrates self belief may be assertive and effective in most situations, but where that person has an inflated opinion of themselves, this can reveal an inability to learn from experience or be able to admit when they make mistakes.
The specifics of what makes a great leader are therefore as personal as personality. There is no formula to replicate a ‘great leader’ only lessons that can be drawn from that person’s personality. That is why in our leadership programmes we incorporate and balance both the dark and light sides of your leadership ability. We will reveal your blind spots, we won’t always tell you what you want to hear, and it may not be a comfortable learning experience, but addressing the negatives will be a positive step in your leadership development.