Are You Overlooking Leadership Potential?
What hidden biases are at play in your current organization?
What is your mental checklist for a leader?
Among the traits commonly associated with effective leadership, I often see these:
– Charismatic, and
The truth is, most leaders are promoted based on their success in a prior role and because they have tenure with the company. According to a Gallup organization report published in 2015, companies get such promotions wrong up to 82% of the time.
What hidden biases exist in your current organization? Who might you be overlooking for a future leadership role? Are you neglecting your potential as a leader?
“If your culture doesn’t allow for authenticity, managers will automatically hire more people who look and think like them because these people make them feel safe to be their authentic selves.”
According to Namely HR’s Workplace Diversity Report 2018, “If your culture doesn’t allow for authenticity, managers will automatically hire more people who look and think like them because these people make them feel safe to be their authentic selves.”
Much of this bias is unconscious and rooted at least partially in the traditional stereotypes of how a leader should look. For instance, the traits mentioned above of being a driver and outspoken often combine with the political-savvy to get ahead. Ever ask yourself why someone with no apparent leadership skills scored a promotion?
Often, we hire and promote people who look like us. Given that tendency, it is easy to understand why less obvious talent may be overlooked.
Here’s another way to view leadership potential.
What would happen if you widened the aperture to include more leadership possibilities? Start with a focus on the following scenarios and consider:
- The quiet one who waits until everyone else in the meeting has spoken to bring up a critical solution or issue that everyone else has overlooked
- The team members who most resemble your customer demographic and whose point of view you neglected to seek
- The person who collaborates most effectively across multiple teams, departments or product lines
Including just these three areas would likely mean a higher level of inclusion with regard to gender and age. It could mean enriching perspectives and the talent pool with ethnically and culturally diverse viewpoints.
For those of you who feel relegated to the ranks of the overlooked, here are some actions you can take:
- Cultivate mutually beneficial relationships across a wide range of influencers within your company, including other departments, product lines and divisions
- Learn to take credit for your work, while also giving kudos to other team members when merited
- Overcome your disdain for company politics by cultivating positive persuasion, alliance building and healthy boundary setting with toxic team members
Finally, check out your strengths in the following areas to see how you measure up for a leadership role:
- Strategic thinking skills
- Resourceful problem solving
- In-depth industry knowledge
- Energy and passion for the product and service
- Work effectively through others to achieve more
- Communication Mastery
These traits are essential for leadership effectiveness, no matter the origins of the leader. Look to your internal and external alliances for support in building and refining a powerful leadership skill set.