A frequent concern for companies is how to support strong contributors who are failing in one or two leadership areas. Their missteps ultimately cost the company time and money, and their struggles adversely impact the people around them. These strong contributors frustrate themselves and others with their leadership shortcomings. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership spotlights ten “fatal flaws” that can derail strong performers.
- Specific performance problems with the business
- Insensitivity to others
- Coldness, aloofness, arrogance
- Betrayal of trust
- Over-managing: failing to delegate or build a team
- Excessive ambition
- Failing to staff effectively
- Inability to think strategically
- Inability to adapt to a boss with a different style
- Overdependence on a mentor or advocate
When such individuals make a misstep they tend to fault themselves (or others), doubt, second-guess, avoid risk or look to the past. The typical approach is to then focus on their weaknesses and assess how they might be improved. However, a Corporate Leadership Council survey of 20,000 employees found that an emphasis on performance strengths resulted in a 36 percent improvement in performance while an emphasis on performance weaknesses was linked to a 27 percent decline in performance.
According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “everyone needs a coach” in business. Having personally benefited from coaching, he likes to point out that “people are never good at seeing themselves as others see them.” The Appreciative Coaching® solution helps strong contributors expand beyond a problem or deficit view of themselves and their situation to see and rediscover inner strengths, successes and resources. We help them “pivot” their thinking to consciously view their situation with new eyes and to experience positive emotions of relief, hope and excitement.
Julia’s company engaged an Appreciative Coach because of complaints about her behavior from both subordinates and peers. She showed some negative “alpha” tendencies, such as being brusque, overly critical and demeaning which demoralized others and created a stressed, fear-filled work environment. Julia was frustrated with this criticism because she consistently achieved company targets (her primary measure of success). The coaching helped Julia realize that while her abilities for keen analysis, lasered attention and drive for perfection created great results for her department, they intimated her staff and peers. Her strengths were her unique gifts but she needed to balance those technical strengths with greater interpersonal awareness and skills so she could engage others to participate out of willingness and not fear. The coaching helped her to see a more complete view of the impact of her actions on others.