Passion, confidence, ambition, creativity, focus – these are all highly desirable attributes of any successful leader.
But like almost every quality that people possess, when overextended our strengths can become weaknesses. And with just a glance through Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune or a host of other business magazines and journals and you will surely find many leaders who have hit the proverbial career wall when passion erupted into anger or personal ambition burned bridges indiscriminately.
Likewise, the careers of aspiring leaders have been abruptly derailed when confidence became arrogance and creativity crossed too many lines.
My good friend and colleague Matt Angello recently wrote a fantastic blog post identifying the seven deadly sins of leadership. His list included:
4. Overused Ambition
Imagine the value that individuals could receive if they could identify these potential derailers before they implode a career; or the benefit employers would gain if they could recognize potential behavioral problems before they hire a new manager or promote an existing one.
The solution is quite simple and easily implemented – leadership assessments. Like preventative health screening services that help prevent or lower the risk and complications of serious diseases, leadership assessments can identify the personality traits, personal values, and behavioral styles that can position an individual for a successful career or … unfortunate (but preventable) failure.
For example, let’s start with anger. Especially when screening managers, this is one of the first factors I look for. The risk is one of the easiest to detect but most commonly ignored – because anger in the earliest stages of a career is often written off as frustration or unbridled enthusiasm. But as an employee is given more responsibility and the complexity of work increases, the short fuse ignites spontaneously and more frequently.
Emotional stability (the ability to cope with stressful situations) is one of the validated and normative scales used on tools like ASSESS, Prevue, and PeopleClues. Individuals who “score” low on stability tend to be more expressive, restless, and excitable. But that provides only part of the picture.
It’s important to differentiate the manager who slams doors, throws objects, and roars above the crowd from the one who clenches his (or her) teeth, whispers inaudible admonitions under his breath and withdraws behind closed doors. Both can be heart attack angry – they just exhibit it differently. That is where other scales and behavioral style comes into play.
For example, let’s look at the Extroverted Angry Manager. This individual has poor (or low) self control and high assertiveness and outgoingness that is more likely to exhibit the rage and anger associated with bully bosses. The Introverted Angry Manager might have the same temper but tends to keep it bottled up or in the closet. He rarely yells and screams in public…but behind closed doors, beware.
Likewise, behavioral style (DISC) reveals a lot about how a manager or employee copes with stress.
The emotion driving the high D style (using the DISC test) is a short fuse and anger. The lower the self-control and the higher the D, the more anger boils to the surface. The high D with good self control might still get angry but high self-control keeps it “caged.”
Another aspect of anger is resilience. The ASSESS leadership assessment identifies 24 personality traits and one of those happens to be resilience. The lower the resilience, the more easily an employee can be frustrated.
Another is ASSESS trait is sociability. The more sociable the more likely he will engage others (and if assertive, make a scene!). The lower sociable manager might withdraw while he internalizes his anger.
A third trait that might impact anger is the quickness to decide. Impulsivity combined with low self control, high assertiveness, high sociability, and high D style is potentially a career crippling profile.
The good news is that a bad profile isn’t a career death sentence. Like bad DNA markers, a high risk leadership profile doesn’t doom an aspiring leader to a rocky career. Living a healthy lifestyle and taking other appropriate steps can significantly extend the quality of life for people prone to life-threatening diseases. The same goes for leadership – increasing self-awareness and making appropriate adjustments can sustain a career and help individuals potentiate their strengths.
Interested in identifying the other deadly sins or learning more about leadership assessments? Call us at 800-803-4303 or contact us today for a free consultation.