Getting into the right mindset to lead a team is a daily practice, according to executive coach Chris Holmberg. It takes work to release from negative feedback loops and realize your full potential in tough work situations. Holmberg further identifies the three “leadership traps” that great leaders avoid:
- The knower trap. This is the mindset that says, “either my worldview is right, or I have to blindly accept yours.” Leaders often choose a side of arrogance or deference, and it boils down to a need for certainty. Too often, startups fail because leaders won’t admit they need to adapt to customer feedback or consider multiple opinions to improve the product. To get out of it, find a healthy middle path between arrogance and deference: openness. It’s okay to act decisively, but keep on listening to your team’s ideas and humbly adjust your own opinions when necessary.
- The victim trap. Leaders fall into the “victim trap” when they blame failures and pitfalls on factors they can’t control. These factors could be unexpected consumer reactions, a bad economy, or even the personality traits of certain employees. To get out of it, invest your energy in the things you can control to switch your mindset from blame to accountability. Ask yourself, “What’s my next move?” so you can break the situation into a manageable size and take action.
- The Sucker’s Choice. A result of binary thinking, the sucker’s choice is, “I have to give up either who I aspire to be or what I want to achieve.” Too many leaders believe the success of their organization will come at the expense of their values, so they cut corners, lie about investment money, or blow off meetings. This mindset can be catastrophic in the long run. To get out of it, embrace self-awareness. Train yourself to notice when you’re up against the Sucker’s Choice by seeing if a situation is forcing you to sacrifice your values. Ask yourself two questions: 1) What result do I want (define winning) 2) How do I want to show up (define personal success).
Takeaway: One of the defining qualities of a leader is the ability to adopt a reasonable, flexible, and humble mindset on a daily basis. Learn how to react to common leadership traps so you can maintain a level outlook.
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