Browsing the archives for the Self-driven Leadership Development tag.

What is a leadership barrier?

Barriers to Leadership, Career Challenges, Leadership Development, Self-driven Leadership Development

The second step in my Self-Driven Leadership Development model is about breaking down barriers.  What does that mean?

 Definition:  A barrier to leadership is a systemic process or attitude that commonly prevents a group of people from moving into leadership roles and being successful in the workplace.

 The “systemic” part of the definition means that barriers are broad-based and apply to most if not all people of a certain group.  It is a shared experience, instead of being a unique situation applied to one person.

Leadership barriers can be process based.  This refers to specific policies and procedures in an organization that might work against some people who aspire to leadership roles or to other types of career advancement .  With advances in civil rights and equal workplaces, these are less common.

More commonly, leadership barriers are about attitudes that keep certain groups out of leadership roles.  Attitudes can refer to overt discrimination, unintentional discrimination, social norms, perceptions and more.  These are often ingrained psychological beliefs and biases that many people are not aware of.  Their subtlety is what makes them so dangerous.

Different barriers exist for different groups.  We’ll consider barriers for geeks and women and minorities and the disabled and even career changers.  In addition to these group-specific barriers, there are some common leadership barriers such as stereotypes about successful leaders and person-organization fit.

 As an example, a well-known barrier to leadership for women is “the glass ceiling”.  That phrase even creates an image of a physical barrier.  The glass ceiling is a statement about the fact that a barrier exists.  It does not actually define the meaning or cause of the barrier.   The concept of the glass ceiling is related to attitudes such as role stereotypes, the “good ole boy” network and “good girl” socialization.

In this model, leadership barriers do not cover personal weaknesses such as poor skills and behaviors.  Those are covered during step 3 of the Self-driven Leadership Development process that deals with individual competencies needed to be a successful leader.

Four steps of the Self-Driven Leadership Development process

  1. Own your future
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Learn critical leadership skills
  4. Apply your skills to your work

Leadership Barriers model:


leadership barriers model

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4 ways to drive your own career success

Self-driven Leadership Development, Uncategorized

The first step of the self-driven leadership development model is “own your future”.  As mentioned in the previous post, this is about taking charge of your own career development instead of waiting for your company to tap you on the should for a promotion.

Of course, that is easy to say and harder to do.  How do you translate that idea into action?

Here are four suggestions for driving your own career success:

 1.  Write down your career goals – Make sure you know what your goals are.  Where do you want to be in one year, five years, etc.  Writing your goals down makes you solidify your ideas and be clear.  Consider your career goals in relation with family needs and personal goals.  What makes sense in light of the other parts of your life?

2. Inform your boss – Once you decide on your own career goals, let your boss know.  Your boss can be a terrific advocate for you in finding developmental assignments or networking or for discussing your interests in succession planning.  Of course, this assumes that you are seeking another role or promotion within your current organization.  If your main career goal is to run away from your current employer, you probably should not share that with your boss.

3.  Create an IDP – An IDP is an Individual Development Plan.  An IDP helps you document the skills and behaviors that you need for future opportunities.  Items on an IDP can range from formal training like taking a financial acumen course or be on-the-job development like learning to stay on the agenda when running a meeting.  Your company might have a development process that involves creating an IDP.  Whether it does or does not, it is your responsibility to make sure you have one and that it is robust, useful and completed.

4.  Be an informal leader – If your goal is to break through barriers and become a formal leader, you may see leadership as something way off in the future.  Having a leadership position with a title and responsibility may be further off. But you can start acting like a leader now.  Every person in an organization has an opportunity to provide leadership.  This can range from volunteering to lead an internal committee to supporting co-workers who need assistance.  Find ways to showcase your leadership ability.

What other activities can you think of to prepare for a leadership role?

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