As a leader, your biggest obstacle is probably yourself.
I’ve worked with hundreds of leaders across the globe, from small startups to the world’s largest corporations, and they all tend to have one thing in common: they stand in their way. As perfectionists, they’re their harshest critic.
I am no exception to this type of thinking. Running two companies across three continents poses its challenges, especially from a leadership standpoint. Not only do I have to worry about hitting my targets, but I also have to consider talent acquisition, retention, building a strong culture, and a million other issues that keeps me up at night.
When you’re in charge, it’s important to create a positive work environment and this always needs to start from within yourself. What I’ve learned is that if I am constantly sabotaging myself with a negative outlook, I have a much harder time keeping my employees happy.
Here are four types of thinking that are sabotaging your success.
1. You’re constantly freaking out.
Leaders who view the world with a scarcity perspective tend to lead through fear and control. Having the belief that resources are limited tends to drive them to be motivated by the fear of not gaining what they want, or potentially losing what they already have.
Thinking this way can quickly become a problem for your employees. Leading with fear often causes a rift in communication which in return hurts your team’s morale and energy levels.
I know how easy it can be to start freaking yourself out. Will you make payroll? Are your staff going to quit? What if you can’t hit your targets? Deep breaths. Yes, these are all scary outcomes. But try not to create a problem unless there is one.
When you start steering your thinking down this dark path, pull yourself away and busy yourself with productive tasks. Answer emails, review marketing campaigns or jump onto social media and see what your customers are saying. Turn reaction into action.
2. You keep sizing up the competition.
Stop determining your self-worth through a comparative lens. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stop comparing your hustle to someone else’s highlight reel.
In other words, don’t compare yourself to your competitors. I ignore what mine are doing. It gives me a sense of freedom and allows me to lead from a place of innovation rather than playing catch-up.
You will always find someone who appears to be doing better. Avoid the comparative lens to avoid hurting the way you view yourself or your company. Otherwise it can lead to rash decisions and uncalculated risk.
3. You’re out of touch.
When was the last time you felt inspired?
If you can’t remember the answer, then it’s time to start seeking new ideas and ways of thinking, even if they’re entirely outside of your industry. I love podcasts. They’re perfect on my commute and have inspired to me to adopt and learn new ways of thinking.
A leader who exposes themselves to a healthy mindset has the potential to expand the success of themselves and the people they lead.
4. You fear failure.
Start looking at mistakes as opportunities– because they’re going to happen. No matter how much planning you do, someone somewhere is going to drop the ball (and it will probably be you). So accept your fate and move forward.
Some of my greatest lessons came from my biggest mistakes. For example, I used to think that to be a good boss, I had to be everyone’s friend. I never got involved in office disputes, focused solely on positive feedback and avoided confrontation at all costs. And guess what? My staff weren’t happy. In fact, many of them were on the verge of quitting.
Instead of hiding in my office and pretending like everything was fine, I faced the music. Was it painful? Absolutely. It’s incredibly difficult to hear critical feedback, especially from so many people. But they were right, and I’m a much better leader for it.