I had a wonderful conversation with a client and friend last week – Jane. She attention a session in the Northeast with David Rock. He had shared the notion that as the higher-up working professional progress in their career, the lesser their leadership capacity becomes. This seems very counter-intuitive at first pass.
Jane and I discussed this and there are reasons given for this premise:
- The amount of work that leaders are doing is much more complex involving piecing together a myriad of items.
- The level of ambiguity at this level is higher because a large part of the role involves planning and anticipating for the future.
- The threat level, from subordinates and peers, is significantly higher.
- The authenticity of both the data and the relationship is always questionable as one relies more on others.
- The personal self-inflicted threat of maintaining the standard of living and role (fear of failure) often leads to conservative approaches.
Upon reflection, both personally and in the context of our business in the coaching/mentoring space, I accept the argument. These are real reasons and threats that managers and leaders across the workforce face daily on an emotional level. It supports the earlier arguments that IQ and hard work gets one to the top, but poor EQ brings one back to the bottom.
I have been in this business a very long time and was a little surprised that I had not thought of this earlier. It is simply true. And it is visible every day. This being the case, organizations and individuals both need to recognize this. I have written at length about creating emotionally safe environments to work in and feel further validated now for having argued so.
This week, I encourage you to take personal inventory of your leadership capacity based on the five causes above. Can you relate to them? Are you impacted by some or all of them? If you are leaders, and in my view, everyone is, then start the discussion with yourself, your family, and close confidants first, and eventually within your workplace.