Groundhog Day Leadership

The road to becoming a great leader is difficult and demanding. Becoming a top-level leader, and staying there, requires ongoing effort. Some of the most important requirements for sustained success are high levels of self-awareness, ongoing personal development and adapting to emerging challenges and requirements while seeking and accepting counsel from trusted advisors.

Leaders that fail, often do so because of arrogance. They read their own headlines, which they may have had a hand in writing, and start believing them to the point where they think they can do no wrong and are invincible. The once great, have stopped listening and are no longer open to input from others and move into auto-pilot leadership mode. This is when it starts to feel like the movie Groundhog Day for everyone around them. In the movie, the lead character, a weather man who is played by Bill Murray, finds himself caught in a time loop repeating the same actions and events day after day. This is what those working for someone with a leadership blind spot must unfortunately contend with.

At worst, so called “leaders”, which have devolved into bad managers, will often associate only with those that support their viewpoint to justify and rationalize their position or actions. The phrase “If we all agree; we must be right!” describes their flawed thinking and clouded perspective. By surrounding themselves with smoke blowing “yes” men and women, they ensure their views become the norm and their objectives are implemented; often regardless of the outcome and the negative impact on relationships, the organization and its reputation.

These leadership challenges are not limited to business. They can be found in families, teams and organizations such as community groups and volunteer associations where the mandate is to improve the lives and circumstances of others and the result is sometimes the opposite.

If you are a leader who is committed to being good, and even great, consider the following signs as early indicators of a potential slide or blind spots.

  • An attitude of “I’m right because I’m the boss”
  • Lack of humility
  • Not listening to others and overriding them in conversations or meetings
  • Withdrawing and becoming reclusive when you feel threatened or challenged
  • Justifying your position primarily on emotions and feelings
  • Lack of openness to objective or corrective input from others
  • Not allowing your decisions to be questioned or challenged

Fallen leaders weren`t always arrogant. Total authority and power, along with the passing of time may have led to a loss of openness and not being willing to listen and hear different perspectives. Humility is lost and narcissism and vanity become the hallmark of a fallen or sliding leader.

To remain a great leader, or re-establish your leadership position, you must realize that what matters most are your attitude, behaviours and actions. Those are what others observe and decide to follow, or not.

We follow and respect great leaders less for what they do, and more for who they are.

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