Crush Leadership Blind Spots

medium_3855181622(Guest Post by Canute Waswa)

Succulent, tangy and sweet, loquat fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This unique fruit originated in the mountainous, evergreen rain forests of southeastern China, from where it spread all across the world, including Kenya.

Growing up in Kibera, a low-income suburb of Nairobi Kenya, you can bet that many a fight broke out among young boys over this yellow treasure. To date, my brothers and I can barely stifle our laughs whenever we are having a good time. We have adopted our childhood saying kukula luguu (eating loquats) and given it a literal translation to English. It has become our colloquialism to express that “we’re having a great time”.

That is why the use of the same tree as a metaphor in Leadership Termites made my ears ‘twitch’. How could those termites dare take on my favorite fruit tree? But truth is that they just did it! They made me think hard about how I can improve my leadership ability.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” ~Mark Twain

Vulnerability: In order to stay on top of my leadership mettle, I need to continually think of how to maintain trust with my team [TweetMe]. This can only be done through being vulnerable to them. You see, when I am at my highest point, coasting will only bring me down.

Leadership, like the loquat tree with the green bark, is one of the truest ideals of the dream world. It is a joy and a privilege not to be taken for granted. Yet many have it and become satiated and that may lead to internal death. Without life under the bark that drove them to productivity. Your followers are part of your core. Your relationship with them can only be maintained if you remain vulnerable to your team. Past accomplishment guarantees nothing about future success. Just ask the loquat tree.

Positive conflict: Newton’s first law of physics states that it is generally the change that requires energy and effort, not the continuation of something we are used to. The best way I keep an eye on the overall pace of change is to engage in positive conflict [TweetMe]. I do not necessarily match it, but I aim to understand the implications of my own choices.

There is a need for feedback for both individuals and organizations. We need to adapt to feedback from our teams if we want to avoid becoming redundant. Positive conflict would have enabled the loquat tree to understand that it needed fumigation. By knowing what needs to change, we by definition also know what to keep. That is why Muhammad Ali called feedback ‘the breakfast of champions’. World champions also need feedback.

Attention to Results: As a leader, I often keep my eye on the big picture, and I should. But I must never forget to focus on the little things [TweetMe]. This could be taking the time to talk with a co-worker about their kids or giving a new employee constructive feedback. Ignoring them can lead to big problems.

The modern senior executive tends to be a strategic thinker, one who is effective at delegating tasks to more detail-oriented team members and rallying those team members towards a common objective. He or she is the face of a corporation’s management. However, the leader is judged on the results of their influence. My mother loved to remind us to ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. Take a co-worker to lunch. It’s amazing what you might learn from them.

And by busting these little, feisty termites, you can create a big thing… progressive and continuous success.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Take action: How will you blast those termites that eat up your leadership?

Canute Wasawa is the Founder and Managing Director of Outdoors Africa. He has over 9 years of work experience and is a member of the Association of Experiential Educators, a joint venture of the Association of Experiential Educators and the University of Dalhousie-Canada. Waswa has worked extensively in the area of Management Psychology, senior executive selection, and held the position of Organizational Development Specialist for several corporate entities.
photo credit: nimishgogri via photopin cc

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

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