What to Do When You Exceed Your Leadership Limits

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.52.47 PMSooner or later, we all hit a wall. Do you know what you need to know to get through when you run up against the limits of your leadership?

As leaders, we know what we know. We have skills that we’ve mastered, talents we’ve cultivated, wisdom we’ve accumulated.

But what happens when the issues you face exceed the capacity of your skills, talent and wisdom? When you don’t know enough to know what to do, or even what your options are?

Do you hide it? Fake it till you make it? Wing it and hope for the best? Plenty of people make those choices—but there’s a better way, especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Here are some positive, realistic, helpful things you can do when you’ve reached your limits and you’re over your head.

1. Admit the truth. The first thing to do is actually something not to do: don’t hide your situation. Once you know the truth of it, admit. No one is perfect, and everyone reaches this point—but there’s a big difference between those who hide and those who don’t. Those who hide never grow; those who are unafraid to admit it are the ones who develop and grow. We fail to succeed. We lose to win. We learn to grow.

2. Rethink and reassess. Think about why and how you got to this point. What’s working? What’s not working? Where do you need the most help? What do you need to learn? What do you need to let go of, and what do you need to let in? If you can rethink and reassess your leadership, you can gain an opportunity for growth from even the worst situation. As you develop as a leader, don’t work to limit your challenges  but to challenge your limits.

3. Stop doing too much. If you think you need to know everything and do everything, then you are not delegating enough—you’re taking on too much responsibility, and most likely those you are leading wish you’d let them do their job so you can go on doing yours. Learn what it means to delegate more and know when to step in and when to step out. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

4. Seek out help and accept it. Even the most brilliant and clever people among us need help sometimes, and we can all benefit from having another set of ears and eyes to help us through difficult and challenging situations. Ask yourself who you can bring in as a coach, who would be an effective mentor, who you can include in your inner circle so you can easily seek help when you need support.

5. Stay human and humble. Allow those you lead to see that you are human. Lead with humility and grace. When you find things challenging, never stop looking for solutions. Leaders who act like they know it all are never impressive, but humanity and humility bring great benefits for you and those you lead. When we push ourselves past our limits, that is how we expand—and you will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.

Lead from within: For leaders there are no limits. There are no plateaus, and there is never a reason to be stagnant. Leaders are always moving forward. They must work on going beyond their limits, even when they think they have nothing left to give. As a leader it’s part of your role to be constantly working to know your limits—not so you can accept them but so you can surpass them.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Additional Reading:

Leadership: Challenges Can Help Us Learn And Grow
How to Become the Leader That People Want to Follow
Lead From Where You Are And With All That You Have
10 Tests Every Great Leader Must Pass

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Sinclair Johnson

    27. Aug, 2016

    LEADERSHIP is something we MUST work on everyday!!! SLDJ

    Reply to this comment
  2. Craig

    21. Sep, 2016

    Thanks Lolly, really good, applicable, practical advice.

    Reply to this comment

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