By JOHN EADES
Everybody loves to focus on the things you must do to be a great leader. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, it’s often our weaknesses or the things we don’t know that end up hurting us the most.
Out of all the information out there, there are things you know (<1%) and things you know you don’t know (max 5%). And then there are things you don’t know that you don’t know (more than 95%.)
Oftentimes, it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that crushes you, and inhibits you and your team from reaching your full potential.
Here are six of those things that I had to learn the hard way:
Being Unaware of the Power of Your Ego
Until recently, I didn’t know how or even why I needed to overcome my ego. I now know ego is simply our own self-centred, self-serving, ambition.
The desire to be more than, to be recognised for, or to be elevated above others. Ego is a conflict all leaders face, but don’t want to talk about.
The problem with ego is that it’s ‘fake’.
People see through it; they know it’s ever-present, and either adjust their behaviour to take advantage of their leader’s ego or disengage and just do what they are told.
Ego leads to poor business and life decisions focused solely on the individual and their desires.
It’s the opposite of how the great American baseball player Jackie Robinson thought about leadership when he said: “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.”
Lack of Self-Awareness
Gary Vaynerchuk, chief executive officer (CEO) of Vayner Media, has been drilling the idea of the importance of self-awareness for years.
Vaynerchuck wrote: “Self-awareness allows people to recognise what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses.”
Without being immensely self-aware as a leader, you almost stand no chance to have sustained success both in the relationships with people and growth of the company.
Forgetting the Principle of Quality
Callaway Golf Company was founded by a man named Ely Reeves Callaway Jr. For years, when he ran the company, he consistently talked about the need for the company to be “pleasingly different, demonstrably better.”
In the years after his retirement, the company struggled to remember the principles of quality and its products took a major turn for the worst.
It took CEO Chip Brewer to remember these words and the principle of quality to repair the company and get it back on track.
So often, we get so busy or worried about making a buck that it’s easy to forget quality.
Compromising Your Values
Values are simply a person’s principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgment of what’s important in life.
Without question, there will be times in your career where you will be tested to either forget your values or push them aside for short-term gain.
As former president of Starbucks Coffee Company International Howard Behar said on the Follow My Lead podcast: “At the end of the day, values are all a company and a leader have. Without them, you are reduced to nothing.”
Allowing Entitlement in the Culture
Brad Stevens, the head coach of Boston Celtics, who is widely considered one of the best coaches in the sport said: “We’re building a culture of accountability, trust, and togetherness. Entitlement will not be tolerated.”
Think about what Stevens is saying. His players make millions of dollars and it doesn’t matter if you are his star player or the last guy on the bench, entitlement will not enter the Celtics culture.
If millionaires aren’t allowed to be entitled, then nobody should.
Forgetting to Love Your People
When I say ‘love’ I don’t mean any kind of HR violation. Instead we define it as: “To contribute to someone’s long-term success and well-being.”
It’s imperative you don’t forget how important the opportunity you have to help develop and contribute to others’ success and wellbeing is.
It reminds me of the great Harvey Firestone (founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company) quote: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”