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4 Pitfalls of High Performers

How to avoid the common traps that limit C-suite leaders' future success

You’re a high achieving founder/executive with an impressive track record.

You’re a quick-thinking strategic problem solver. You love the challenge of fast-moving, complex situations. You’re always among the first to catch a vision.

But despite that, you don’t feel that special inside because of the deep sense that you could achieve so much more. You know you’re playing too small a game.

Sounds familiar? You’re not alone.

In my coaching and consulting work with incredibly impressive founders/C-Suite leaders and their teams, I’ve found four main pitfalls keep high performers from achieving their potential.

In this document, I describe these pitfalls.

You won’t necessarily find all apply to you. But my clients have demonstrated that when you overcome your top 1-2 issues on this list, your world and your legacy transform.

1. You’re not tapping into your ‘rocket fuel'

You may have a great role that’s grown stale, despite being objectively “awesome” (prestigious, well paid). Perhaps you suddenly feel a sense of stagnation. Or you have a gnawing dissatisfaction that you’re not on a meaningful mission.

There can be a lot of fear. By most standards, you’re flying high. So it feels you have a lot to lose: self esteem, a stable financial situation. This can cripple your ability to make inspiring career leaps and push you into playing it safe and looking for incremental opportunities rather than exponential success.

The secret truth is, you’re desperate for greater, more significant, impact - but there’s a fear that if you reach for it you might actually come up short for the first time in your life, or the cost might be too great.

If this is you…

  • It’s time to connect with your “North Star” and find a personal mission that’s so compelling that NOTHING will stop you.
  • Take time to explore alternative projects and “future selves”. You’re probably a fast-mover, but here, taking time will be essential.
  • Recommended resource: Career Transitions: Exponential strategies for high performers.

2. You’re missing a thinking environment

If you’re isolated and overloaded, you’ll find that you aren’t able to do the ‘next-level thinking’ you need to make big progress on your strategic goals.

You may find yourself isolated because there are complex high-stakes decisions to be taken, and few neutral voices available. Often, there’s no real challenge to your viewpoint.

Like many leaders, you may feel overloaded. You, and everyone around you, are maxed out. However, you know it’s not sustainable and that it will take a toll on health and family.

Often whole organisations are like this: everyone is maxed out on operational issues, and the deep thinking isn’t happening. There’s progress, but it’s too slow and incredibly hard work.

If this is you…

  • Create a thinking environment – ring-fenced time to process the big issues that need addressing. Get an executive coach, or get together with someone you respect outside the organisation who can act as a strategic sounding-board.
  • Recommended resource: Strategic Breakthrough Consultation.

3. Your leadership team isn’t a true team

Your direct reports are one of your key levers to scale impact. Many founders and execs are happy with the individuals – but are frustrated at the lack of cohesion in the team as a whole.

You know the situation. Everyone is a high performer, but it doesn’t feel like a high-performing team:

  • There’s not enough ownership and collective responsibility. Everyone focuses on their functional silo, leaving you to be the glue that holds everything together.
  • Meetings are ‘meh’, missing a sense of momentum, focus and bold decision-making.
  • There aren’t ‘courageous conversations’ on key issues.
  • 20% of people do 80% of the talking.

If this is you…

  • It’s time to establish a blueprint for HOW the team operates (and not just WHAT the team does).
  • On a personal level, take a look at how much you set vision and problem-solve for your team, rather than encouraging them to develop their own goals and solve their own problems. Most high-performing leaders disempower their own teams without noticing it.
  • Recommended resource: Leadership team meetings: How to have better discussions.

4. You’ve not mastered “scalability"

You need to grow or lead change across an organisation and you have a strong, cohesive “inner circle” - but you’re not sure their teams are truly aligned.

There isn’t the right degree of focus, and there’s also pockets of resistance in various places. You don’t feel everyone ‘gets it’.

Your managers aren’t managing their teams with the strategic focus, empowerment and clarity of message that you need.

Overall, the organisation feels like it’s missing a ‘central nervous structure’. It’s hard to control, especially with people working remotely and in many locations.

If this is you…

  • Think about whether your organisation has a consistent, objective leadership culture across all levels. How are you creating consistency in behaviour and leadership mindset across offices, teams and divisions?
  • Consider what mechanisms you have in place to multiply skillsets and mindsets across the organisation.
  • Recommended resource: Scaling a company: why leaders in tech fail to capture the market.

So…. which of these is your biggest issue right now?

  • CLARITY: You’re not tapping into your ‘rocket fuel’
  • OVERLOAD: You’re missing a thinking environment
  • OWNERSHIP: Your leadership team isn’t a true team
  • ALIGNMENT: You’ve not mastered “scalability"

We’d like to offer you fresh perspective and best practices to overcome these obstacles.

If you want to identify or deliver a big strategic objective for your or your organisation in the next 12 months, apply for a complimentary 1:1 consulting call here:

We’ll roll up our sleeves, push your thinking and find some practical steps. There’s no hard sell or obligation to buy anything.

Recalibrate your leadership skill set

Many leaders stop growing because they’re getting great reviews from their boss and strong feedback from their people.

Unfortunately, they don’t realize they’re still only in the first phase of their leadership journey.

Perhaps you’re getting results from your team that bolster your company’s bottom line. Your people respect you and look to you for direction. You know you’re an effective leader – maybe you’d even rate yourself as, say, an 8 out of 10.

However, you might be using a scale made for people with more modest ambition.

It’s time to recalibrate that scale to reveal the tremendous opportunities for growth--and to inspire yourself to reach for greater heights.

How Coca-Cola recalibrated its idea of what was possible

Look at how Coca Cola recalibrated its concept of what it had the ability to achieve. The company had already cornered over 65% of the international soft drink market – the height of success, one might say. However, instead of just patting themselves on the back for a job well done, executives realised they’d only cornered a small portion of the total drink market.

Meanwhile, Pepsi dominated 77% of the sports drink market and 88% of coffee drinks. Now, Coca Cola too is focused on becoming a “total beverage company” that dominates in many different categories of drinks where it has boundless room for growth.

The lesson: Don’t just luxuriate – and languish – in your success, and 

  • Re-calibrate your idea of what is possible for you to achieve in your own journey 
  • Evaluate yourself on a new leadership scale; a scale calibrated for people who want to leave behind a legacy of success
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Entrepreneurs : 3 pistes inattendues pour accélérer votre projet

Si vous êtes un entrepreneur, un porteur de projet - bravo !  Vous êtes parmi ceux et celles qui ont une vision, une passion et un vrai désir de changer le monde, au moins un petit peu.  Vous êtes passé de ‘spectateur’ à ‘acteur’, et pour cela je vous félicite.

Mais d'après mon expérience, les entrepreneurs se retrouvent souvent un peu isolés. Ceci crée un certain manque de recul par rapport au projet.  Le résultat ? Quelques “angles morts” qui freinent la croissance de l’entreprise.

Autrement dit, si nous continuons à accepter notre propre “histoire” par rapport à notre situation, nous n'arrivons pas à trouver de solutions radicales pour vraiment faire avancer notre projet.  Nous sommes plutôt dans le domaine de l’incrémental, de “travailler plus pour avancer plus vite”.

Dans mon travail avec des chefs d’entreprise, je vois (j'observe/je remarque souvent) trois aspects en particulier qui méritent d’être “challenger” par un tiers, pour permettre à l’entrepreneur d’identifier de nouveaux accélérateurs de croissance :

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Senior Exec Priorities 2018

The results are in from xquadrant's 2018 Organisational Leadership Survey.

In the spring and summer of 2018 xquadrant surveyed over 150 senior business leaders in order to understand their top business goals and the organisational challenges that were putting the brakes on their ability to execute.  

The results are fascinating and we’ll review them in this short series:

  • In this first article, we’ll have a look at who completed the survey and we’ll make some high-level observations around the priorities of these leaders
  • In the second article, we’ll dive into the specific organisational and people challenges faced by executives in two key contexts: scaling and transformation
  • We’ll then take a practical look at the top 3 most transformative/impactful solutions identified by execs in each context (scaling and transformation) - and provide pragmatic implementation advice

>> No time to read this now? Concerned you’ll miss the insights from the rest of the series? Get the entire series in ‘bite sized’ emails + a convenient consolidated report.

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60 personal effectiveness tips from world-class experts [UPDATED]

Effectiveness is more than productivity.  Whereas productivity is 'doing things right', effectiveness also includes 'doing the right things' and can be seen as a chain that links your daily activities to your deepest needs, desires and hopes for the future.

So if you want to live a successful, accomplished life, tuning up your personal effectiveness is one of the wisest investments you can make.

So for this important topic, I reached out to 60+ very accomplished experts in a number of fields, including CEOs, leadership experts, productivity gurus and ministry leaders.  I asked them the following question:

What is the most surprising tip you’d give somebody looking to grow their personal impact & effectiveness?

I recently updated this post with some additional insights and updates. I hope you'll agree that the result is one of the best collections of personal effectiveness tips.  This is real practical wisdom for achieving great things in your work and life.

Download now, digest later...

RECOMMENDATION: This is a long post, so I suggest you grab the free PDF version which also includes a one-page summary that you can refer to regularly keep you on track!

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The liberating leader: a manifesto

Our partner, *GiANT Worldwide*, coined the term ‘liberating leader’ to represent the kind of leader who is truly worth following. This article describes what a Liberating Leader is, why it’s so important, and what you’re ‘signing up to’ if you aspire to being a Liberating Leader.

Our (not-so) hidden agenda

Sure we can talk strategy, or value propositions, or tech-sector trends or organisational development. We love that stuff at xquadrant!

But there’s a deeper heartbeat at xquadrant. It’s to help leaders build amazing teams and organisations that accomplish great things.

In fact, we can go further. It’s to help ambitious individuals like you create a legacy of positive change and success in all circles of influence: personal, professional and community.

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    To create outstanding results - and build outstanding teams.
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    To have the satisfaction not only of ‘winning’, but of seeing the people you have influence over and responsibility for win too.
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    To have the sense of pride, as you look back, of both your results and of your investment in those around you.

You see, xquadrant was founded on the conviction that great leaders accomplish great things precisely because of their ability to create environments where people grow and perform at their best.

This is not blind faith. In his bestselling book Good To Great, Jim Collins reported that he was surprised when the data from a serious research project found a direct linkage between outstanding long-term business performance and the presence of humble and committed senior leaders.

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