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Five leadership horrors

 At Ivy House, we believe that the journey toward becoming an extraordinary leader is one full of self-discovery, growth, and continuous learning. But along the way, leaders should be wary of a number of pitfalls — each a little more frightening than the last. These five leadership horrors have the power to ruin a leader’s potential, and can even have lasting negative impacts on their teams and organisations. So what exactly are these horrors? 

A scarily fixed mindset 

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

Albert Einstein

 Leaders who resist change and fail to adapt can stifle progress within their organisations. This applies in both an inward and outward sense. Inwardly, having a fixed mindset about their own beliefs, behaviours and impact will stop leaders from growing and learning. Outwardly, being stubborn in the face of changing markets and consumer needs will hinder an organisation’s potential. Any creative will understand the importance of learning to not be too attached to your ideas — similarly, leaders should not be too attached to their beliefs or their vision that they are unable to make necessary changes. A fixed mindset can be detrimental to any leader, and any business.  

Cold, hard lack of belonging 

“Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.”

Brené Brown 

 We love this quote because it highlights the difference between fitting in/conformity and belonging. Many organisations have a culture of conformity, in which people strive to be like everybody else in the hope that it will allow them to progress. However, any leader who can genuinely foster a culture of belonging — not conformity — will uncover a gold mine. Because when people feel that they can belong, as their true selves, it creates a culture in which people can thrive, innovate, create, and exceed expectations. This is the bedrock of inclusive cultures, ones in which each member of a team is able to bring their unique perspective to make the whole even greater. And, it starts with leaders – because leaders create culture.  

A spooky sense of distrust 

“The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them.”  

Harold S. Geneen 

One of the most common pitfalls that leaders can fall in to, is failing to trust their team. While a lack of trust may derive from good intentions (wanting the team and organisation to succeed), it can erode employee morale and productivity. Distrust can manifest as micromanagement. Leaders who micromanage are often perceived as controlling, and employees are left feeling as though they cannot be relied upon to produce great work and results. When employees don’t feel that their talents and skills are being acknowledged or appreciated, they are more likely to retreat – or take their skills elsewhere. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to act as a cheerleader, and decide to fully trust your employees to play the game themselves – because when you gift trust to others, you will be rewarded with engaged, motivated employees who actively want to live up to your expectations. 

Ghastly communication 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” 

George Bernard Shaw 

A key element of any leader’s role is to convey ideas and processes clearly, actively listen to the experts that surround them, and encourage open dialogue within their team. On the flip side, ineffective communication is the grave where good ideas, progress, trust and collaboration are buried. Taking this a step further, truly extraordinary leaders need to be equipped with the skills to have difficult of conversations in an effective way, and build intentional, positive relationships, built on trust. One tip to remember is this: simplify. At Ivy House, we have a saying that ‘clear is kind, unclear is unkind’. If your desires and objectives are unclear, then it will be an impossible task to unite others behind them. 

Chilling lack of self-awareness 

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.”

Warren Bennis

The final horror is in many ways the worst – because it causes the others. Self-awareness is absolutely fundamental for any leader who wants to grow, learn and excel. And it is a trait that most people over-estimate in themselves; sadly, most of us like to believe we are more self-aware than we really are. For leaders, this can be detrimental. Effective leadership requires a deep, genuine  understanding of, and curiosity about, oneself. Only through this self-knowledge, can leaders consciously decide the type of leader they want to be and choose the behaviour that will make that happen. Self-aware leaders understand their strengths, actively work on their weaknesses, and are not afraid to talk about this process of growth — which in turn, enables others to feel safe learning about their authentic selves. 

At Ivy House, we believe that self-knowledge is the catalyst for real transformation. It is the foundation upon which authentic leadership, effective communication and behavioural change can happen. 

“The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

Pema Chödrön 

Our programmes focus on helping individuals harness the power of self-awareness to become the leaders they aspire to be. And that can be hard — scarily so — but if you have the ‘courage and respect’ for yourself and others, to start looking inwards, the impact will be huge. 

 If you want to know more about the challenges that leaders face, and start on your journey to becoming an extraordinary leader, download our white paper all about modern leadership, where we get even deeper into how you can achieve this. 





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