By Floyd Carlson, author of Conscious Leadership in Action!
Tim was promoted to a new senior management position in his company and one of the critical interpersonal dynamic behaviours required for the role is to develop new contacts and initiate relationships. Tim however tends to avoid social settings and prefers to work in solitude. This habit of being by himself and disassociating started when he was 11 years old and his family moved to a larger city where he did not know anyone. Now in his late 40’s this pattern continues to impact him today without his awareness. His management team sees him as not following through with making connections and feels skills training will make the difference. In this situation skills training will not address the behaviour that is holding him back from making connections.
Tim has a limiter that is impacting him. A limiter can be caused through an experience that the person had with a much heightened emotion and this then becomes a belief, emotion, circumstance, habit or thoughts that are blocking the person from achieving what they really want. Over time these patterns become their default and show up over and over again.
Limiters also impact your authenticity of how you show up as a leader. These unconscious blind spots then play out daily and impact those around you. For example, Julie is a professional woman who felt stuck in her career. She is respected as an expert in her area and as someone who connects very well with her company’s partners when she works with them. Julie wanted to gain visibility to what was blocking her. She asked ten people she knew in different capacities to be very open and provide her with two things the person believes she does really well and two things she could improve on. In addition, Julie did a follow-up discussion with each person to best understand the feedback. Yes this takes courage from Julie to do and the exercise is extremely beneficial in helping you identify your potential blind spots. One piece of feedback Julie received was that she made decisions impacting her team and herself, because of her strong need to please people. The feedback came with timely examples which helped her to realize how this belief pattern was impacting her performance. She was struggling with authentic communication to her stakeholders and made workarounds that impacted her team and her leaders’ perception of her.
Once Julie had the feedback and she was aware of her limiters, she was able to take action to make the changes she wanted in her life. She hired a coach who worked with her to identify the beliefs that caused her strong desire to always please others and developed strategies to work through situations that triggered her pleasing pattern.
Tim’s management team can best help him by brining awareness about his limiters. This can be through having him take an assessment, direct feedback with examples and using Julie’s approach of asking ten people for direct feedback. The model to overcome limiters is to become aware, take actions to change and monitor if you are getting the results you want or not. If not, change the actions until you get the desired change you are looking for.
Originally featured on Authenticity Rules