Growth & Leadership

Do you look up to the people in leadership roles at your workplace? Do they set an example for you to strive for? Do they create an environment in which you can grow and develop?

In recent times I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of new people and discussing the general topic of leadership. This, in turn, has led me to reflect on my own experiences, specifically in the context of this blog (i.e. seeking growth opportunities). As a result of this reflection I had the realisation that one of the key factors in my decision to leave previous roles was a loss of confidence in the ability of my leaders to challenge convention, to see things differently and strike out in new directions.

Which way now?

I’m not sure that I was even conscious of this aspect at the time. Rather, this loss of confidence manifested itself as a general frustration or job dissatisfaction. I was ‘comfortable’ and/or sensed that my leaders were comfortable, which made me….uncomfortable! Craving growth and change I found myself turning elsewhere to satisfy this need. Once this threshold was breached it was only a matter of time before physical departure followed.

I appreciate that there is a delicate balance that leaders need to strike and that doing so often requires them to discount a natural confidence in their own knowledge, accumulated over years of experience. What do I mean by this? In most circumstances it is normal for organisations to award leadership positions commensurate with an individual’s level of experience. That’s ok, but I think that it is important to acknowledge that years of professional experience and career success carries with it a kind of psychological baggage; namely the confidence that causes a person to believe that they ‘know’ what to do or how to act in a given situation.

I am not advocating that leadership roles should be given to inexperienced staff (although career planning and ‘fast-tracking’ is essential for any organisation wanting to retain top talent). Instead, it is my contention that confidence bred of experience needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of ‘self-scepticism’. It is this scepticism that will enable a leader to balance their natural propensity to produce answers, based on their experience, with the ability to retain an open mind, continually ask new or different questions and be receptive to fresh ideas.

I am interested to hear the thoughts of others on this subject. What is your experience as an employee? Are you currently a CEO, Managing Director or senior executive who has grappled with this issue?

In closing I am reminded of an old joke:

Q: What do you call a leader with no followers?

A: Just somebody taking a walk.

I should be going now…it’s time for my walk.

A leader of one


Author: Steven Macek

I learnt a long time ago that in order to grow it is necessary to step outside one’s comfort zone. As a person who craves growth and change this has led me to continually seek out opportunities to make myself uncomfortable, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically. The (Dis)Comfort Zone blog is a vehicle for cataloging those experiences.

2 thoughts on “Growth & Leadership”

  1. I agree Steven, you learn as much from a poor leader if not more. Humility and being open to not having all the answers is key. Knowing that the optimal answer(s) are out there if you collaborate in a diverse environment and can actually listen AND consider alternative opinions can be be liberating for all involved. No guarantee of success of course but so much better than the alternative you refer to….cheers Pieter

  2. Great blog post Steven. My personal experience is that people in general will grow, develop and prosper in their role if you as their superior let them. Of course there will be mistakes (we all make them) but a good mentor will be worth his/her weight in gold.

    There’s too many controlling people in leadership positions who do not trust their people and let them spread their wings.

    Ciao Andre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s