What’s Your Leadership Bête Noire?

On October 12, 2011, in Blog, Leadership Development, by Christine Glasco

One of the questions I normally ask during the first or second meeting with a new executive coaching client is: “Tell me about a time when you weren’t successful…”

Inevitably, the leader will tell me about a time or situation when he/she:

Most often, the leader will tell me the situation and describe why he/she was not successful.  Normally, I ask additional questions in order to conduct a thorough situation debrief and post mortem.  This debrief sheds light on the leader’s understanding of situation, the leadership choices made and his/her growth since the incident.

Six months ago, I met Martin, a large company vice president; I asked him the same question.  Martin described a situation that had happened during the previous year that negatively impacted his ability to effectively lead his team and also had longer term impacts on his career.

Martin left the company when it became evident that his upward progression would be forever stymied.

I have a few leadership bêtes noires – “beasts” or “nightmares” that I live with – we all do. We learn to put it in perspective and grow from the experience.  Martin allowed this situation to ‘color’ his day-to-day leadership style to such an extent that he acted like – and then became – damaged goods.

When we experience a leadership career loss or setback, somehow we dig deep, forgive ourselves, learn the lesson we need to learn, regain a measure of equilibrium, reinvent ourselves and reignite career momentum.

Tips to Recover After a Major Leadership Career Loss

  • Reassess – Look at your internal and external support structure.  Make a list of your supporters, your detractors and those that are neutral. Develop a plan to convert the neutral (and a few detractors) to become supporters.
  • Re-invent – Make this part of your story.  Every leader has a brand; make it part of your brand.  Slaying a bête noire; working through a major set-back; finding new leadership strengths; becoming a phoenix rising from the ashes makes us human and makes for a wonderful career backstory.  The leader who has not experienced a few setbacks along the way is not being honest or sadly – has not yet been tested.
  • Re-use – Use it as a training and leadership development tool for subordinates.  You don’t need to mention it daily, weekly or monthly, but it can be useful to discuss in coaching your employees.  Discussing your area for development will help them realize that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Re-invest – Make a pledge to support your leadership career by engaging in continuous growth and development.  Even if your company or organization doesn’t cover the expense, commit to annually attending at least one leadership development-oriented seminar or program.  Engage a coach to help you manage your bêtes noires.
  • Realign – Take the time to analyze what’s going on in your organization right now and tomorrow. Open your mind to new possibilities.  How can you trim, add, innovate, initiate to more closely align your contributions with today’s and tomorrow’s growth opportunities.
  • Reignite – If you lost it – find your passion.

Martin allowed one (albeit devastating) situation to impact the upward trajectory of his leadership career.

Questions for you to consider:

  • What’s your leadership bête noire?
  • Have you let one negative situation impact your short- and long-term career growth?

© All rights reserved.

Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation strategies and strategic leadership development solutions. To provide you with clarity on how to achieve the next steps in your career, go to www.christineglasco.com and request a complimentary copy of Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook

Email: info@christineglasco.com Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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