Contrary to popular belief, no one is a born leader. People have to work for and grow into the leadership role they want.
And once they achieve this position, powerful forces can prevent them from becoming the effective and influential leaders they want to be — especially their own behavior.
Best-selling author and executive coaching expert Marshall Goldsmith says that several self-delusions inhibit a leader’s desire to change. Worse, behavioral issues can drag on for years because people cling to delusions that sidetrack any effort to change.
Marshall identifies the six most common delusions that disrupt effective leadership:
1. Dream of the Future: A leader might think, Things are chaotic now, but in a month all this will settle down. Then I can focus on what really matters. In fact, current conditions are very likely the norm, not the exception.
2. The Planner Bias: The person who makes the plan is not the person who executes the plan. The planner wants to stay engaged in meetings. The doer replies to emails on a smartphone. Positive behavioral change won’t occur before the planner and the doer become one.
3. The Understanding−Doing Gap: A huge gap separates what we know from what we do. Even if we understand the impact of our negative behaviors, that understanding has no practical value without daily effort to change behaviors that we’ve accepted in ourselves for years.
4. It Won’t Take That Long or Be That Hard: Ineffective leaders procrastinate in making needed changes in themselves. For leaders — or anyone else — changing ingrained habits or abandoning comfortable behaviors always takes longer and is more difficult than they expect.
5. The High Probability of Low-Probability Distractions: The chance that some distraction will happen, no matter how small, is almost certain. There will always be an issue or crisis, even if we can’t predict which one.
6. Today Is a Special Day: I want to share more information with my peers, a leader might think, but not today. Today is special. Sharing this data could hurt my bargaining position. In fact, most of us can find an excuse almost any day to avoid making needed behavioral change.
Once leaders are aware of their self-delusions, whether these or others, they’re more likely to say, “I need some help.” And that’s the necessary first step toward improvement.