5 Commitments Seasoned Leaders Must Remember Common Leadership Traps to Avoid

As we become more successful in our leadership, I have found there are five traits we tend forget, or at least not remember on a daily basis. I spoke about this two weeks ago to a group of hospital executives (Public Speaking Checklist), and I want to share these points with you as well.

leadership traps

  1. Remember your passion. People follow passionate leaders. They support them, want to learn from them, and ultimately want to be in their circles. But what is passion? Passion is a fire and a drive that somehow causes people not to “move on” past us, but stay along for the journey and accompany us to the end. Passion does not have to be loud and boisterous. It can be quiet, keeping a steady resolve, like Mother Teresa demonstrated. We can lose our passion and our ability to sacrifice. When that happens, typically I see two things that zap our passion. First, our work becomes ordinary. We must not let it, we must remember those moments that made us passionate about our work. Is it possible for a janitor sweeping the floor to have passion? Of course. If that person thinks, “I am sweeping the floor where patients will walk. We are making a difference in their lives. This is my contribution.” The second way we lose passion is when we compare our blessings and successes to those of others, leaving us feeling deflated in our spirit. I have seen many successful people lose their spark in leadership. We must not be satisfied simply by being a successful executive; we must become and maintain our passion as a leader.
  2. Remember to offer grace. What do you do when people make a mistake? Or when you feel offended? When I train leaders, this is one of the first and most important areas I emphasize that must be conquered before a person can be effective in leadership. The discussion around this topic usually prompts people to begin questioning, “But if I offer grace, how can I hold people accountable?” The answer is, we must learn how to hold people accountable without pressing their spirit down.
  3. Remember to do what’s hard. Many times after we have led for a long time and have some victories under our belt, we have a natural tendency to relax. We want to raise leaders who will take charge, while we earn the reward of sitting back and watching the whole deal work beautifully. Right? Wrong. That’s the wrong goal of leadership. Rather, we should make it our mission to empower others who will ultimately help us lead. Maybe in some instances our job is easier. But we must remember that 95% of all our decisions as leaders can be made by an intelligent junior in high school. We usually consume ourselves with the easy decisions. But it’s really the remaining 5% that need our personal attention: the issues that require wisdom, courage, and sacrifice. The hard decisions.
  4. Remember your personal growth. Many times as seasoned leaders we have developed our talents in so many areas. We know how to build a team, how to help leaders grow, how to create a culture. Why keep learning more? Because old knowledge can become stale. It may still be relevant and effective. We should not discard it. But we are usually most excited when we talk about what we are discovering now. Without personal growth, our passion will become uninspiring.  I love talking about new frontiers I have wrestled with and conquered, new depths I have reached. Growing as a leader keeps me vibrant. It keeps me a “student,” not always a  “teacher.” Further, our commitment to personal growth makes us a role model to those around us in their own personal growth journeys.
  5. Remember to think. Leaders love action. They love to get things done. When we have a lot going on, we like to keep the momentum going. But that is not enough. We must create time to pause and think. Thinking while driving home, or in certain daydreaming moments, like waiting to get a haircut is good. But we should be more intentional. What I recommend if you have followed my articles is a dedicated “thinking time.” I aim to have three hours weekly. Some periods in my life, I cannot do that, and I do much less. The best way to maximize your intentional thinking time is to have a thinking list which includes issues that are currently unresolved. Don’t list items that have been resolved. For example, at our clinics, the patient room is so important because of the amount of time patients wait there for the doctor, and then remain after the doctor leaves. We are considering redesigning our rooms now. So, I recently added that to my thinking list because I need to think of the underlying goals before the design takes place. What can  you add to your list?

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

Grace: A Distinctive Trait of Great Leaders
Blocking Time to Think

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