How to Break Through Your Own Leadership Limits 

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In leadership—as in everything we do—we all have our own strengths and limits, and the better we understand ourselves the more effective we can be. How well do you know your true leadership potential?

Maybe you’re feeling hemmed in by your limits but you don’t know what to do about them. Or maybe you know what you need to do but aren’t sure where to begin.

Either way, it’s important to remember that we can only change the things we pay attention to. Change doesn’t have to be drastic to be impactful, but even small changes require some effort.

If you’re looking to move beyond your leadership limits, here are some good starting points:

Change the lens through which you view yourself. We tend to see ourselves as we always have, so we judge ourselves on our past and not who we are in the present. If you’re stuck in your own past, it’s important to update your view of yourself and the way you think and talk about yourself. Consider the things you’ve accomplished and the positive feedback you’ve gotten to connect with your potential in the here and now.

Know what you need to change. People who come to me for coaching sometimes can only say they need a major overhaul. That’s not helpful or productive. Treat yourself as you would a member of your team: weigh your strengths and weaknesses as objectively as possible—maybe with the help of a colleague or your boss—and prioritize the areas where you most want to improve.

Be willing to do the work. It’s good to be aware, but awareness benefits you only if you’re willing to put in some effort. Breaking through your limitations means spending time addressing your belief systems and rethinking your assumptions. Nothing will happen on its own—reaching your potential requires hard work.

Identify and remove any obstacles standing in your way. We all put obstacles in our own path—some we’re aware of and some we can’t see. Figuring out your obstacles and working to remove them is an important part of the process.

Leverage your limits. Most people would tell you to concentrate on your strengths to reach your potential. I have a different view. In my book The Leadership Gap, I discuss the need to leverage our weaknesses as well as our strengths, because what we don’t own ends up owning us. Learn what you don’t do well, what things you consider your weaknesses, and leverage those traits. Connecting with your full potential means making the most of everything within you—your weaknesses as well as your talents.

There are lots of things you can do to move closer to reaching your potential. Even if you don’t remove all your limits, understanding yourself is a key to great leadership. That’s where the true power lies: in changing what you can, doing the work where it’s necessary, and always thinking of yourself as a work in progress.

Lead from within. As a leader, you have control over who you want to be. Do you choose to lead by limits or your potential? Or do you work with both? The choice is always yours.


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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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