The Achilles’ Heel Of Every Great Leader (and 3 Ways To Overcome It)

If today’s great leader is known for their humanity and heart, it figures that a big potential weakness for that kind of leader is showing a little TOO much heart.

That is, keeping someone as part of the team when it’s clear that they don’t belong.

Showing a little compassion is surely a good thing when someone is struggling, because it can be for a wide-variety of reasons, some of which can be corrected.

But there’s a line that needs to be drawn in each and every case, lest the team get bogged down by too many “projects” that require the leader to spend too much time coaching and not enough leading.

The key to overcoming this weakness is the ability to step outside the situation and look back at it as objectively as possible.

In other words, to take the emotion out of it, and let the facts tell the story.

Their are three key things that leaders must do to be able to do this:

  1. To be sure that clear, objective expectations are set properly at the outset, as well as the proper accountability standards.
  2. Compliance is properly documented on a timely basis.
  3. There is a regular (and candid)  feedback loop on performance.

If a leader can do these three things,  then it’s much easier for the head to overrule the heart when there’s a danger point, and the right personnel action needs to be taken.

Because as John Adams so famously said back in 1770,

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Adams always wore his leadership heart on his sleeve, but yet he knew his head had to rule when those “stubborn facts” dictated the right decision.

Facts are the human leader’s best friend when those tough decisions have to be made.

They can also give leaders the courage to make the “letting go” decisions, because the heart also can be motivated by fear, and the more clearly and convincingly the evidence is compiled and presented, the less fearful of the consequences the leader will be.

This seemingly contradictory blend of head and heart is not really contradictory at all –  facts and objectivity are pathways to fairness, integrity, and transparency that in the long run make the difference in creating a truly “human” workplace that can be fulfilling for all who can and do thrive within the right set of expectations and accountability.

The leader who understands this will overcome their Achilles Heel, and head to greatness.

(Photo by Bigstock)



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