Mills: Don’t let inflexibility derail your own success
Creating a successful career takes hard work.
However you define success for yourself—a good salary, regular promotions, respect from your co-workers—it is something to be proud of and celebrate.
After all, you got where you are today by applying your natural talents, learning new skills and sheer effort.
Clearly you’re doing something, if not most things, right. That’s important to remember because that will keep you confident.
It’s just as essential to admit that some of the behaviours that got you to where you are now don’t actually work all the time.
Everyone has blind spots when it comes to their own behaviour, meaning there are times when you are completely unaware of how you come across to others.
You may not notice when your usual approach is not working or when a situation demands a skill you may lack.
If you constantly misread your impact on others you run the risk of sidetracking your own success.
If you knew that, you wouldn’t do it, right? Of course not, but that’s the thing about blind spots.
We need a little extra help to see them. And sometimes even with new awareness, we resist changing our behaviour, ignoring the warning signs until there is a very real possibility that you will derail your own career.
A common vulnerability that I see in my leadership coaching practice is making decisions without consulting or advising others affected by them.
In the extreme this also includes being dismissive of any resistance or outside input either before or after the decision is made.
If you are in a management position, it is likely due in part because you are seen as decisive and action-oriented —you are responsible and you get things done.
These leadership qualities are real strengths; the trick is to not over-use them to the point they become a liability.
The ongoing work as a leader is learning when to be direct, when to get input and to what degree. It is a sliding scale.
There will be times when you have to communicate a decision that’s already been made (usually by someone else); other times you may want to sell an idea of your own.
To be successful in a leadership role you need to adapt your style to what the circumstances require.
As a manager you are required to make decisions everyday that affect others.
How you handle these impacts your reputation as a leader. The first step toward avoiding a derailing behaviour like inflexible decision-making is to understand your usual way of operating.
Then you need to get some honest feedback about how it is perceived, stay open to what you hear and use it as a starting point for improvement.