When A Leadership Strength Can Become A Weakness

20 Apr 2022

When A Leadership Strength Can Become A Weakness

Has your leadership strength become a weakness? Do you know that phrase ‘you can have too much of a good thing’? It doesn’t only apply to food (although I can attest to that as well after Easter in relation to chocolate eggs) – it can also apply to leadership strengths and traits as well. A leadership strength can easily become a weakness when it is overused.

I was reminded of this fact after reading ‘When your oxygen supply becomes your water leak’, one of Stuart Smith’s blog posts at Fiscal Artisans. In short, a simple flick of an oxygen pipe had changed a life-giving tool for his fishtank into a mini-disaster, as water spilled out everywhere.

It got me thinking – where else can a small change take a leadership strength and turn it into a weakness?

At IMLD, we use the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint to measure a leader / managers leadership behaviours and identify strengths and weaknesses. The scores range from 0-100%, however most scores sit between the 50-85% range.

Velocity leadership CheckPoint - Leadership Assessment Tool for Leaders

In the debriefs of results with leaders, I often refer to scores between 80-85% as ‘healthy strong’ or ‘optimised’ – the behaviour is being used to a very healthy and effective level for themselves or the team around them. For scores that rate above 85%, I will often refer to them as ‘unhealthy strong’ – the behaviour is being overused or over-relied upon, and it can make for unhealthy behaviour for the leader or for the team round them.

An example of a behaviour that is measure in the CheckPoint is Commitment. The Commitment score relates to how committed a leader is to the workplace – under 50% and the leader is committed – just not to work They are more committed to themselves (with scores this low the leader is often looking for alternative employment). Scores of 70-85% are healthy strong – the leader is committed to work and the business and is putting in the hours / effort to achieve their tasks.

With a Commitment score above 85%, a good behaviour can start to create issues for the leader. If everything is about work, and all of a leaders time is spent at work (working consistent excessive hours), it can start to have a long term detrimental effect on the leader. They can not only become tired and worn out, they can become resentful of the work and workplace, which can impact the team around them. If the leader does nothing to rectify the situation (learn to take regular breaks rather than eating at their desk, get away from the office, take annual leave) they can take the drastic of leaving the workplace.

Another scores that can become unhealthy strong is empathy. Empathy in a leader is a fantastic trait to have, particularly in uncertain times like we are experiencing now. Empathy in a leader creates understanding, curiosity and trust with team members, who them feel like the leader is seeking to understand them and truly consider their welfare as part of the work equation. Again, 70-85% on the Empathy score is a ‘healthy strong’ score. When the score exceeds 90%, it can start to dominate a leaders thinking and have a detrimental effect on leader and team. Why?

When a leader is overly focussed on the feelings / impact of behaviours on the team, they can start to diminish the impact of a behaviour on themselves. If a new piece of work comes in that requires the effort of a team member who is already busy, a leader with an excessive empathy score may decide to do the work themselves – even when they are already busy (or busier) than the team member. Excessive empathy can prevent a leader for just asking and checking if the new piece of work is possible for the team leader to complete – they just assume. Over consideration of the team sounds like a nice trait, but not when it is isn’t based in reality. The leader can end up taking on more takes themselves than they should, which has a net negative effect for themselves and their team.

Similar comparisons can be made with leaders who rely too heavily on late notice problem-solving rather than early planning, or are so confident in their actions it appears to others as arrogance.

Do you have a behaviour that you use to excess?

Is there a trait that you overuse, to the point that is actually does you more harm than good? If you do, what will you now do to rectify the situation?

Velocity Leadership CheckPoint – Your Leadership Assessment Tool

Do you actually know what behaviours you overuse, underuse or have optimised? If not, perhaps the place to start is by completing the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint.

25 behavioural leadership traits, focussed in 5 distinct leadership capabilities – a ‘must know’ for any leader or team looking to drive high performance. If you haven’t completed the CheckPoint, get in touch with us today to arrange an appointment. Read through the comments and feedback from those that have – many say that it has had a profound effect on how they lead and perform within a team.

The Velocity Leadership CheckPoint and Debrief is the starting point for any of the IMLD Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching or Emerging Leaders Programs.

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