We have all seen that dangerous driver weaving through highway traffic. They barely make it between cars. They tailgate. They cross three lanes of traffic to make their exit.

People like this may think they are good drivers. They aren’t. The fact is other drivers are making way for them. They brake or slow down to avoid them.

These dangerous drivers are getting to their destinations despite their bad driving, not because of it.

Reckless drivers conflate their behavior with success on the road. Leaders are also at risk of this kind of thinking.

They might think that they succeed because of certain behaviors, when in fact they are successful despite those behaviors.

Not everything you do as a leader contributes to your success formula. Some things may actually be working against you. In his book, the Inner Game of Work, Timothy Gallwey  came up with the formula that performance equals potential minus interferences.

The implication here is that higher levels of performance can be attained by removing those behaviors that actually counteract potential.

Many leaders are successful DESPITE behaviors like:

  • Having a tendency to take over meetings
  • Micromanaging
  • Delaying decisions
  • Over-reliance on consensus
  • Not sticking to a calendar
  • Not picking their battles
  • Pursuing lots of new initiatives at the same time

Nobody is perfect. But leaders can often raise their game simply by eliminating behaviors, not just trying to add new ones.

Because factors like this are hard to discover on our own, I would suggest using one or both of the following methods to get the required insight.

  1. ASK those around you what is one or two behaviors that you could drop and be even more effective?  This question can be asked to trusted peers and teammates. You can do formally (as in a 360) or informally over lunch or during a one on one meeting.
  2. TEST yourself with a detailed assessment that highlights strengths and potential derailers. Assessments are an excellent way to dig deeper and think about yourself in ways you may not have considered before. The Harrison and Hogan are both excellent resources for this.

A reckless driver is under the illusion that they are a good driver, when the truth is that the skill and attention of others is actually preventing a serious accident.

Get clear on what makes you a success. This includes understanding those behaviors that are getting in the way of your success. The team around you will be glad you did and likely will be more than happy to help you with your blind spots.