Your company’s biggest roadblock

Roadblocks hinder or bring all progress to a grinding halt. They exist to get in the way, interrupt normal flow, and force a change of plan. When approached as challenges, roadblocks can become the catalyst for innovative thinking that lead to discoveries and breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are exciting and almost always lead to new opportunities and accelerated growth. But what happens when the leader is the roadblock? What do you do when the leader doesn’t have a clue he or she is the roadblock?

I’ve spent the better part of my career studying leadership thinking and how it can both lift and hinder company growth. That’s why the essence of my “no-compromise leadership” process begins with how leaders think and behave. The tenets of no-compromise leadership (NCL) are designed to prevent the roadblocks that leaders create themselves. Adhering to the NCL tenets takes discipline and patience – and an extraordinary level of self-awareness. Without that self-awareness, a leader can perceive that roadblocks are emanating from situations or conditions created by other individuals or external factors, such as the economy or competition.

I’m writing this for those who are led, as well as those who lead. When “blame, justify and defend” is directed at a roadblock rather than innovation and creative thinking, the leader is the roadblock. I’m referring to patterns of leadership thinking and behavior where the leader is an active contributor in creating the roadblock, feeding the negativity, allowing it to continue through inaction, or applying quick fixes that only temporarily lower the roadblock.

  • For those who lead: Extraordinary self-awareness is the discipline and ability to look at a roadblock and ask this fundamental question: “What do I own in the creation of this roadblock, problem or situation?” Doing so gives the leader permission to explore how his or her patterns of thinking and behavior must change in order to achieve breakthroughs. FACT: I have yet to discover an organizational roadblock that a leader didn’t play a role in through some form of poor communication skills, failure to clarify expectations, micro-management, inability to extend trust, disrespect, indecision, fear of change, fear of confrontation, and outright avoidance of problems. Take ownership in what you don’t like about your company and you’ve taken the first step to creating a better future.
  • For those who are led: First, the recommendation for self-awareness of your thinking and behavior, and taking ownership of your role in creating and manifesting roadblocks, applies to you just as much as to your leader. Even if you didn’t create the roadblock, you’re probably feeding it. Second, get up to 30,000 feet and consider what it’s like to be a leader and what it really takes to keep all the moving parts of company working properly. Tough decisions aren’t always popular. Initiating change almost always meets resistance. It’s stressful to be a leader. Respect must flow both ways to create trust. Third, when signs point to the leader’s thinking and behavior as a potential source for roadblocks, have the courage to engage in a constructive and respectful conversation where all parties begin by accepting ownership. Mutual ownership is the first step toward unleashing creative thinking and innovation.

The thinking and behavior of a no-compromise leader must include the discipline and objectivity to look in the mirror and ask, “What do I own in what I don’t like in my company?” Then, do something about it. And when those they lead respectfully hold the mirror for their leader, the no-compromise leader puts his or her shields down and pays attention to the gift they are being given.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


2 Responses to “Your company’s biggest roadblock”

  1. 1 Spencer Offenbacker
    May 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

    You mention “tenets of no-compromise leadership (NCL)”; I am fairly new to the Monday morning wake up and would like to know if you could send me what these tenets are?


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