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To Be or Not Be a Leader – Top 5 Obstacles

These days being a good leader is something which everybody is either talking about or wants to be doing.  There are a multitude of books that have been written about the qualities of great leaders and certainly whenever there is an election, politicians are constantly evaluated in terms of their leadership potential.

During job interviews, people’s leadership skills are an important consideration.  Many companies want to hire people who they can move into leadership positions.

It is important to know not only what qualities are relevant, but what might interfere in attaining your potential.

Here are 5 obstacles which could stand in the way of your becoming a great leader.

1.  Not being self aware

Self awareness is one of the most important tools an individual has in order to be successful in life.  When you are unaware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you interact with others and how you come across in various situations, you are vulnerable.  If you have a false sense of how you behave and how you present yourself, then how people respond might confuse you.

2.  Poor response to constructive criticism

The ability to accept criticism is an asset if your goal is to move up in the work environment and become a leader.  If you assume you have all the answers and know better than others, you are not really open to learning.  No one walks into a new job knowing all the answers.  When someone gives you feedback if you constantly disagree with it and become defensive or dismissive, you are not demonstrating a willingness to grow.   Being open to constructive criticism means you acknowledge you have things to learn and are willing to do so.

3.  Ineffective listening skills

Unfortunately many people are guilty of not fully using their listening skills.  If you have already made assumptions based on the person who is speaking, you will not hear what they are actually saying.  Or perhaps it is subject that you feel you are very knowledgeable about and therefore don’t really need to hear from others.  If either of these situations are occurring, you are not available to guide and direct people in the best way possible.  You are not listening for opportunity or potential.

4.  Difficulty moving outside your comfort zone

If you have difficulty with change, then it will be a challenge for you to establish yourself as a leader.  Imagine a leader who always wants everything status quo.  “Let’s keep things the same in spite of the fact that the world around us is changing.”  You will need to push yourself to experience discomfort in order to achieve new things.  Being comfortable is not necessarily the goal.  Perhaps it is learning how to expand your business, letting staff go in the most humane way or restructuring the business or office.  Just because things have always been done “this way,” does not necessarily mean it continues to be the best way.

5.  Being an ineffective manager

People sometimes assume that if you are promoted to a managerial position that you automatically have the skills for the job.  This is not true.  You may now be responsible for people who you used to socialize with and therefore an adjustment needs to occur.

You also need to be mindful of how you are communicating with them. If you are constantly criticizing, doing their work because you believe they are not capable or too slow, or are condescending and angry in your communication with them, it will be difficult for them to respond positively to you.

If any of these areas are creating problems for you, now is the time to address it.  Remember – you want to be a dynamic leader who accomplishes goals while moving both your company and employees forward.

Copyright 2009 by Gail Solish. All rights reserved.

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About the Author
Gail Solish, MSW, RSW provides Executive/Personal coaching to managers, directors and executives focused on workplace development and relationship management. Claim your FR-EE e-course “Unleash Your Potential and Increase Productivity and Fulfillment” at or contact Gail at 416-322-0029.

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