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ATD Blog

5 Challenges to Leadership Effectiveness

Friday, April 23, 2021
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As a business mentor and leadership coach, I’ve had the opportunity to guide leaders through a fair share of leadership challenges. In the Leadership Elevation Framework, introduced in a previous blog, we talked about Omnikron’s Learning Lifecycle, which lays out a clear learning pathway to advanced leadership skills. Through the Learning Lifecycle and the Leadership Elevation Framework, Omnikron has helped leaders identify and overcome common leadership challenges like these.

Complacency

Leaders and their teams often reach a point where it’s easier to continue along the path of least resistance than it is to push forward towards growth and innovation. This “if it ain’t broke” mentality of team members leads to lackluster performance, stagnant productivity, and a reluctance to successfully compete for new contracts, customers, and resources. The leader faces a decision to stay stagnant or push forward. While resting comfortably on a plateau can seem easier than to keep driving upwards, the real challenge is to resist that complacency. Driving updwards is exactly what leaders must do to break through the barriers of status quo thinking.

To overcome complacency, leaders and their teams must engage in learning new concepts and skills. It’s only through continuous learning that complacency can be replaced with motivation, creativity and excitement.

Over-Control

Many leaders lack the ability to truly delegate effectively. This creates a culture of micromanagement that stifles independent thinking, crushes creativity, and leaves leaders too focused on the short-term. They may practice small-picture thinking when, as their organization’s thought leaders, they should be going big.

The Leadership Elevation Framework teaches leaders to relate active learning to the bigger picture, stay focused, and empower their people to learn, think, and act for themselves. All of which naturally benefits the organization!

Lack of Problem-Solving and Negotiation Skills

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Problem-solving and negotiation are essential skills that leaders, teams, and individuals should master regardless of the sector, type or size of their organization. However, these skills are not typically taught in a way that enables true understanding, successful application, and positive outcomes.

The training and coursework Omnikron has developed in these areas is gleaned from actual techniques used by FBI negotiators and hostage crisis experts. Once leaders and their teams master these specific skills, they become expert negotiators—ready to deploy the strategies they’ve learned in any business (or personal!) situation.

Assumed Collaboration Through Osmosis

True collaboration doesn’t just happen. It takes a host of communication and negotiation skills to create and support a collaborative work environment between leaders, teams, business units, silos, globally distributed groups, and so forth. Unfortunately, many leaders assume that people will successfully collaborate on projects just because they are asked to work together—what we’ve termed “collaboration through osmosis.”

The truth, though, is that collaboration takes hard work from everyone involved, as well as specific learned skills in areas like communication, negotiation, change management, project management, Scrum DevOps, agile service, and much more.

Innovation for Innovation’s Sake

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Many good leaders make the mistake of creating a culture of innovation for innovation’s sake, when the goal should really be innovation for elevation’s sake. When leaders push innovation first and foremost, they are throwing their people into an “innovate first/assess later” mindset. This invariably leads to failure and frustration, as innovative ideas coupled with ineffective, superficial collaboration and non-existent negotiation skills can quickly spiral wildly out of control.

To reach the stage of effective innovation, good leaders and their people must first master problem solving, collaboration, negotiation, and strong leadership skills. Finally, should they turn to innovation when teams are working together cohesively and are ready for the disruptions innovation inevitably brings to the table.

The challenges described here are common among leaders, and overcoming them can be frustrating and time-consuming without a cohesive plan of action on team management. The Leadership Elevation Framework and the Leadership Learning Lifecycle were developed by Omnikron to give leaders and potential leaders a pathway to excellence.

Check out similar articles: Effective Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness

This blog was originally published in November 2017 and was updated with new information and resources.

About the Author

As president of Omnikron Systems, Inc., Robin Borough has worked with scores of Fortune 100-500 companies, focusing on technology-related training and staffing solutions in areas including Big Data, cyber security, cloud and convergence, process transformation, design thinking, and many other critical areas affecting today’s organizations.

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