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5 Self-Imposed Roadblocks to Progress

In my recent post, “The 5 Scariest Words A CEO Can Say,” I touched on why “I can do it myself” is one of the most dangerous statements a leader can utter. It means they can’t delegate, don’t know their own strengths (and weaknesses) and due to their responsibilities, it’s a very safe bet that important initiatives won’t get addressed in a prompt fashion the way they should.

On top of those 5 scary words, however, there are 5 convenient excuses that leaders make, creating self-imposed roadblocks to prevent the company from moving forward.

They are:

1) “We don’t have the time to do it this year.”

When we speak to companies regarding onboarding a new CEO or client loyalty assessments, we’re talking about increasing revenue. So when you say, “We don’t have the time to do it this year,” here’s what you’re really saying: “We don’t have the time to pay close attention to how we can generate revenue.” “We don’t have the time to understand where we’re most vulnerable to competitive advances or strengthen our client relationships.” “We don’t have the time to ensure that we don’t make the same painful mistakes in onboarding a CEO that we’ve made before.” Leaders should be engaging in these initiatives and they may very well want to. But they get torn in so many different directions being in such positions of high authority that they don’t have the time. In fact, it’s not just making time but that it’s going to take them longer because they don’t have a process. We do. We enter an engagement at Value Drivers with a process and structure for doing client loyalty assessments. Frankly, it’s not our first rodeo. In a way, clients get the advantage of our cumulative experience, benefitting from all the mistakes we’ve made without making them on their end as well as all the refinements we’ve stumbled upon.

2) “I know what’s worked elsewhere and I can do it again here.”

It’s a nice idea that there’s a plug-and-play method of success from one company to another. But you can’t just apply a successful strategy from somewhere else to plug right into the current environment. It’s not that easy. There are always differences in the situation, both obvious and subtle – culture, personnel, goals, budgets and so forth. What worked for Apple isn’t going to work in exactly the same way at Dell.

3) “Our information is just too sensitive to trust to anyone else.” Really? Do you defend yourself in court? Or do you go out and get the best attorney you can afford?

I’d say most people would choose the latter because they know they shouldn’t be trying to navigate something that important on their own. So why wouldn’t you apply the same thinking to your business? Keeping it in-house doesn’t guarantee it gets addressed in a timely manner nor does it guarantee that it’s going to be done better.

Whether it’s onboarding a new CEO or assessing client loyalty or logistics or developing breakthrough advertising, one thing holds true: If that isn’t what you’re good at, why are you doing it?

Give it to people who are so passionate about it because that’s all they do and they have an exceptional track record. If you’re in a leadership role, you’re not detracting from your own position by involving others who can complement your strengths with their own. The outside experts aren’t a threat. Using them will make you look even better.

4) “This is definitely important…we just can’t do it during busy season.”

That’s the wrong way to look at it. It’s busy season for YOU. Not your client. Firms that are inward looking to such an extent shouldn’t be surprised by a problem of client perception, such as lack of communication. Understanding the client’s view of your company is important every minute of every season. And by the time the “busy season” has passed, it’s not unusual to hear Self-Imposed Roadblock #5.

5) “We’ll do it next year.” Next year never comes. Ever. This is the quintessential line from someone who simply doesn’t see it as a priority now, tomorrow or years from now. No matter how adamant they are that they’ll absolutely, positively attack it at the first chance they get…someday.

The deeper issue getting in the way of progress is fear.

  • Fear of looking inadequate or weak in front of colleagues or a board.

  • Fear of change because change is uncomfortable and it isn’t a billable activity.

  • Fear of hearing things internally or from a client that aren’t all positive.

Fortunately, if we turn these fears around to see feedback, change and communication for the positives that they can be, our Setting Leaders Up For Success process isn’t something to fear at all. It’s just smart business strategy to take 6 weeks that will help ensure the success of your company’s next CEO, COO, CXX or Division GM, or that your next 3-year plan focuses on what matters most. Especially when you consider that 40% of C-level executives fail, quit or are pushed out within 18 months of starting their new jobs.

Let’s talk about how incredibly valuable this strategic diagnostic and implementation support can be for an incoming leader – and your company – by calling Value Drivers today at 312.827.2643 or Or, to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation, click here.

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