Think about the worst leader you’ve ever had.

What words would describe them?

I’ll go first: Micromanaging. Manipulative. Dishonest. Opportunist.


And those are just the obviously bad ones. But what if you had other blind spots – not-so-obvious, seemingly innocuous ones – that interfered with your ability to be the incredible leader you want to be?

Because more often than not, these blind spots are not only prevalent among high-achieving leaders but often viewed through the warped lens as being positive attributes.

Let me be the first to tell you: These are decidedly not compliments.

So here, I identify five leadership-sinking blind spots – and how you can instead rise up and lead well.

#1. Not Managing Time Appropriately.

Friday night, you were answering emails during your daughter’s soccer game. Saturday morning, you were on a call with a client about a new initiative during your son’s piano recital. Saturday night, you went out to celebrate your anniversary but you were so distracted by intrusive thoughts about work that you can’t remember what you ate. Sunday afternoon, you took time to plan and prepare for the week ahead while your family went for a bike ride.

Sound familiar?

Let’s get uncomfortably honest here: How long has it been since you were fully present? Too long, maybe?

Life has a sneaky way of getting in the way of our best intentions: being present, establishing healthy boundaries, self-care, putting family first. We know what we’re supposed to do but often, we just can’t quite figure out how to do it. But as with any struggle or obstacle in life, the first step is admitting you have a problem: You may not have everything under control. So while it’s often mission-critical to put in the hard work and long hours to get a business off the ground, it’s always important to be sure that you’re working smarter and not always harder.

#2. Not Setting Boundaries.

Often, leaders think that in order to get all the things done, you must schedule, schedule, schedule – and then over-schedule – every minute of every day in order to maximize productivity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the fable about two woodcutters who wanted to see who could cut the most wood in one day.

Both woodcutters started chopping away. After an hour, one woodcutter suddenly stopped. When the other woodcutter noticed, he smugly assumed that his opponent must’ve grown tired – and continued to cut down his trees even faster. But soon, he heard his opponent cutting again. And then stop cutting once more. So he continued to cut, taking advantage of his opponent’s ‘breaks.’

For the rest of the day, the one woodcutter would stop chopping for fifteen minutes so when the competition ended, the other woodcutter, who had worked straight through without stopping, was confident he would win. But to his surprise, the woodcutter who had taken timely breaks won. But how?

Because while one woodcutter was still chopping down trees, the other was taking time to sharpen his ax.

Moral of the story? Take time to sharpen your ax. Block times in your calendar for breathing room. Practice self-care. Learn to say no.

#3. Not Delegating.

Have you ever caught yourself saying …

“No one can do this the way I can, so I’ll do it myself.”

“If I can do it myself, I probably should.”

“This is too mundane a task to delegate.”

“I could complete this task in the time it would take me to explain and delegate.”

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then chances are you could be standing in your own way as a leader.

Do you – or any other person for that matter – have the knowledge, skill, energy, and time to handle every task? How about handling them effectively? How about handling them effectively and having enough free time and resources left over to focus on growth?

Let me spare you the need for thinking too much. The answer is no. No leader ever went it alone, and none ever will. Because if you want to be a great leader, you must delegate.

#4. Not Over-Communicating.

We’ve all been there: We say one thing, but the person we’re speaking to hears and interprets something else entirely.

But what if you’re not saying enough altogether?

In fact, a recent survey found that 38 percent of respondents named communication as their key issue at work.

Communication – clear, explicit, and thoughtful communication – is the foundation for every relationship. Because regardless of industry, job, or even whether you work in a brick-and-mortar office or virtually, how we express our expectations and needs inevitably impacts and affects every outcome.

#5. Not Being A Lifelong Learner.

You’re a leader. You’ve reached the summit. Little by little, you’ve earned every step of your journey to the top and now, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

After all, it did come with a sweet corner office.

Granted, you earned that view. And that office.

But with a fixed mindset – one that precludes you from continuing to grow and evolve – your time in the sweet suite will likely be limited.

Why? Because leadership is a journey, not a destination.

So leaders who adopt a growth mindset multiply their team’s potential, create a healthy culture, and drive business growth.

You are your greatest asset and as such, you must be prepared to invest in yourself. That may mean listening to podcasts, reading lots of books, finding mentors to spend time with – whatever that looks like for you.

You are your greatest asset. Invest in yourself, and reap the returns.

Stop Sinking. Rise Up & Lead Well

Need more inspiration? Looking for one next step you can take to elevate your leadership game to the next level?

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