How Leaders Hold Themselves Back Without Realizing

the number one challenge for leaders

As an external Coach, one of the questions I ask my Coachee before we begin our sessions is “So, out of the discussion you have with your Mentor, what’s the area you want to work on?”

Normal question. Although, I find, the answer is quite fascinating.

“Oh that is easy. He says Business Acumen.” She says confidently.
“Well, that’s good. What did you discuss about Business Acumen? What have you guys agreed on?”
“Uhm, nothing. He just said Business Acumen.”
And that’s the end of her conversation with her mentor.

I wonder why they don’t probe deeper about the topic. I mean, do they have the same understanding of Business Acumen? What does it mean by Business Acumen? What are the characteristics if I have grown in my skills and knowledge in that topic? Aren’t we a tad bit curious?

I see a lot of these happen in Indonesia. We just take what our mentors and leaders say without trying to get an understanding of what they really mean. I wonder if the mentors also don’t know what Business Acumen is. I wonder if the Coachee just doesn’t really care about her own development. I wonder if we are just not comfortable in having conversations with our leaders.

She is not someone who is not experienced. She has been in her profession for over 10 years. She is already a Senior Manager in her company. And yet, she accepts an answer that is ambiguous.

Another Coachee just had her 360 degrees feedback and I ask her what she learns from it. She says, “Oh, it’s nothing surprising really. It’s the same feedback I’ve been getting for 10 years.”

In my mind, I ask the question “If you’ve been getting the same feedback for 10 years, isn’t that telling you something?”

What I learn from this is this. We often rely for our company to care about our development and growth. But, as leaders and individuals, do we care about our own development and growth? Are we still going to rely on other people and company to feed us spoons so that we can blame them if we are not promoted or getting that opportunity we want? Without realizing, we are the one who is holding ourselves back. And it needs a good dose of Emotional Intelligence to have an awareness of this.

This is a major challenge for leaders, because how can they be authentic and walk the talk if they can’t develop themselves?

Leaders take charge of their own development. Before they care about everyone else in their team, they take good care of themselves. Before they inspire and empower others, they know how to inspire and empower themselves.

It is such a good reminder, even for me. Have I take charge of my own development? Do I care about me? What is it that I do to continue to unleash the potential within me?


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