Breaking Through Performance Barriers (And Why Most Leadership Development Fails)

In 2020 alone, a significant $356 Billion was spent on leadership development (which makes sense since a company’s potential is only realised through impactful leaders). 

However, in one study which surveyed 329 organisations, 75% of leaders said they did not believe their company’s leadership development efforts were all that successful. Other studies have shared similar observations.

The thing that’s made most senior leaders feel jaded is that, despite what their team members were taught to do in training, when they find themselves in complex or high-stakes situations which evoke stress and emotion, their behaviour tends to revert to default.

If you relate, don’t worry – there is a solution! And it’s best explained with an analogy…

The Carrot Analogy 🥕

Imagine a planted carrot…

The leaves above the surface represent the visible behaviors we exhibit, but it’s the root hidden underground that holds the key to understanding why we act the way we do.

Just like the root of a carrot, our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can stay buried deep in our subconscious, shaping (even distorting) how we interpret situations.

Our beliefs (ideas we have a sense of certainty about) generate our assumptions, which becomes the lens through which we see ourselves, others, and the world.

This lens determines how we interpret the situations we find ourselves in, evoking emotions based on our perceptions. These emotions ultimately influence how we react and behave.

A Practical Example

Consider a leader by the name of Jules, who unconsciously believes that ‘failing at something is a sign of weakness’… 

This belief generates the assumption that admitting mistakes will result in being judged and criticised.

Therefore, when a mistake is inevitably made, the above assumption evokes a range of emotions such as shame, vulnerability, or fear of being judged – which influences Jules’s internal dialogue and behaviour – such as:

  • Keeping the mistake buried;
  • Avoiding asking for help or feedback for fear of the mistake being exposed;
  • Not admitting to the mistake when issues come to light. 

In this example, you can see how easy it is for the performance barrier of ‘absence of trust & safety’ to form, when one or more leaders in a team exhibits these behaviours!

With all this explained, what is the solution to effectively identify and eliminate all 5 performance barriers of absence of trust & safety, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to team results?

The simple answer is below…