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  • Writer's pictureOlivier S.E. Courtois

Self-Ignorance: The Main Dysfunction in a Leader?

As part of my research into the 7 most common leadership dysfunctions, I had the pleasure of delivering a keynote address at an international bank this week.

The 7 dysfunctions are most interesting when we look at the consequences of them on three levels:

- Leadership effectiveness and the impact of dysfunction on performance, motivation and organizational culture.

- Career management, and the risk of career derailment and failed transitions.

- Business transformation and the potential lack of stakeholder buy-in due to a lack of leadership.

At the end of this conference, I had the opportunity to conduct a small informal survey after presenting the 7 dysfunctions. What do you think is the most common dysfunction that has the greatest impact on a leader's effectiveness, career success and ability to transform the organization?

Nearly one-third cited self-ignorance as the most important dysfunction. This was followed by poor communication, distrust and dispersion.

As Carl Jung said, "Mankind suffers from an immense lack of introspection."

Many of us naturally spend a lot of time confronting the outside world, analyzing its mechanisms and codes, and working hard on the gaps between the ideal person we want to become and who we really are.

Due to a lack of time, keys to understanding, courage or interest, we spend much less time trying to understand ourselves. Yet, it is the life's work and an essential condition for success. Building a career and a life on our strengths and managing the risk of our weaknesses, rather than spending our lives fighting our weaknesses and taking our strengths for granted.

The other day, a Vice President of a large group said to me, "Olivier, I think I know myself pretty well! I replied: "Can you tell me what your 5 key values are, those that guide your decisions and determine your destiny? Just like that!" He told me he needed some time to think about it. How is it that we know our company's stock price by heart, but we need time to think about answering a key question? And I'm only talking about values. One of the many aspects of self-awareness.

Regeneration as a leader involves a personal journey of self-discovery. It is a never-ending quest, to be taken seriously, but so essential and rewarding!

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