The warrior Achilles is one of the legendary heroes of Greek mythology. Achilles was extraordinarily strong and courageous, but he had one vulnerability–his Achilles heel. The term “Achilles heel” is now used to describe a powerful person’s fatal weakness.
What is your Achilles heel? Delegation? Temper? Statistics and analytical analysis? You’ve likely reached your current executive position by understanding and navigating your weaknesses successfully. However, there’s also a significant possibility that you haven’t yet reached your full potential—and you may not realize what’s at the root of the problem.
Sometimes, a bit of soul searching is required to realize a personality quirk or part of your character is holding you back. You may think it’s an innate part of your personality that can’t be changed, but it can. Sometimes, it should be.
The following are 4 issues that fall into this category often, how they can affect you, and what you need to know to address them:
It comes in many forms, but true fear is that uncomfortable feeling you get about someone or something think is harmful. Some fear is natural. Where this becomes an issue is when you allow yourself to become so fearful of “potential hurt,” you avoid anything with risk. This can be very detrimental to a leader because it’s your job to take calculated risks in an effort to reap the benefits.
There are 3 ways executives can address and overcome a fear of risk:
- Accept it as part of the job. Embrace the fact that risk is part of the job description.
- Thoroughly examine the market. Research will help you see what your customers want or how promising an opportunity really is, and that helps prevent costly mistakes.
- Be smart. Depending on the level of associated risk, you must always make sure to protect yourself.
Fear of failure is natural and common. When you risk failure, try to view it as a challenge. Imagine yourself doing well and succeeding, which can make you perform better. And if you do fail, treat yourself kindly. You’re more likely to accept your mistakes and do better next time.
The first goal with insecurity is to understand that it’s different from fear. Fear is externally sourced, while an insecurity comes from within. Insecurity at work can sometimes be linked with ambition and overwork. If you hold yourself to an incredibly high standard, believing you are only as valuable as the results you achieve, insecurity can take root and grow within.
However, insecurity may not be such a bad thing. In fact, it can give you motivation to succeed. Entrepreneurs and researchers say that insecurity can drive successful people to prove someone or something wrong. Real estate mogul and Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran credited insecurity as part of her success. Others like “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua, cofounder of MapQuest Chris Heivly, and CEO of Radiate Betty Liu feel similarly. In short, insecurity might give you incentive to work hard, but when channeled wrong (with anger or hate) it may be detrimental.
Lack of Trust
It’s a hard thing to trust others especially when people have let you down. But if you don’t have trust for your people, then letting them do their jobs is especially difficult. And if they can’t do their jobs, you might take that extra work on yourself. You’ll get burnt out, and your coworkers or team members may feel hurt at the lack of trust.
To overcome feelings of distrust, try:
- Recognizing mixed signals. People have different personalities. One person might build trust by sharing personal feelings, while another may prefer not to. Understand that differences can cause mixed signals.
- Understanding different working styles. If you’re detail-based and someone on your team focuses on the results, be honest. Explain to them directly that your working style is preferred and why, rather than dropping hints. Honesty builds trust.
- Tracking progress to erase doubt. “I don’t trust anyone else to do it but myself” is a common belief. You may be able to do the work faster and better, but you must learn to trust others to do it well too. To ease your doubts, make sure you have clearly outlined goals and ways to track projects.
Trust will only come when you actively work on it and allow it to grow. No one says it has to be all at once, but it does need to happen.
One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading. Allowing oneself to get too involved is understandable. After all, your leadership comes with the passion you put behind it; giving anything less than 120% just doesn’t cut it. So, when things don’t go as planned, it’s very difficult for many senior executives to cut the strings and make a clear distinction between self and goal.
What makes us prone to such behavior? Many leaders feel an instinctive reaction to “protect” their work. Success can make you overconfident, or as if you cannot let go and delegate to others. When you hold on to your work too tightly, becoming overly involved, you decrease your power and potential. Furthermore, you aren’t empowering your team or peers by letting them contribute their best work, too.
To overcome this, let others in. Be selective about the work you take on, and inspire others to work with you on the rest. Choose people whom you trust to balance you out, encourage good work, and strive to do better. Whether that person is a friend, a mentor, or a coach, it’s always a good idea to have someone in your life who can help you be your best.