Understanding Your Gaps: Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t

Do you ever wonder why some people succeed and others don’t? We’ve all seen deserving people who never quite got things off the ground, and others who made it look easy. It doesn’t always seem to make sense.

Over the past three decades of coaching top leaders and entrepreneurs all over the world, I have worked with every type of person and every type of personality you can imagine. The thing I’ve found consistently in people who succeed is the understanding that the same traits that made them successful have a flip side–a opposing counterpart–that can lead to their downfall through a gap in their leadership.

In my new book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, I identify seven leadership archetypes that lead to success. And within each I also identify a polarity, an opposing counterpart. For every archetype that can make you great has a flip side that leads to a gap. This is especially true for high-achieving individuals. Your success hinges on knowing your own attributes and how to leverage them to play from your strengths and avoid the gaps.

Here is a summary of the seven archetypes and their gaps: understand them and learn how to use them to guide yourself to stand in your greatness.

The Rebel

The Rebel wants to make an impact on the world and embarks on quests to achieve remarkable things. The rebel is driven by confidence. But leading to the gap, the Rebel can instead feel like the Imposter, characterized by self-doubt. The Imposter appears when you find yourself constantly having to fight off negative messages in your mind

Three ways to leverage the Rebel and banish the Imposter:

  • Make a list of all things you do well and review them daily. When your competence goes up, so does your confidence.
  • Surround yourself with people who believe in you. When you spend time with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, their energy is contagious.
  • Stop comparing yourself with others. It’s a waste of time and a thief of success.

The Explorer

The Explorer is driven to innovate and create new opportunities, new products, new businesses. Fueled by intuition, they test the boundaries and limits of what is known. They reject the status quo and are constantly looking for something new, listening to their inner voice to forge a new path. But leading to the gap, the Explorer can become the Exploiter, characterized by manipulation. The Exploiter appears when you feel stressed or out of control, bringing a need to micromanage and feel in control of things. It’s especially damaging to anyone whose work depends on creativity.

Three ways to leverage the Explorer and banish the Exploiter:

  • Quiet the analytic mind and let the intuitive mind speak loudly. No problem can be solved with the same mind that created it.
  • Let go of control. You lose only what you cling to.
  • Allow yourself to wonder. Accept what is, let go of what was and hold to the wonder of what will be.

The Truth Teller

The Truth Teller embraces candor, even when it makes people uncomfortable. They speak with openness and honesty, driven by a sincere desire to be of service. For truth tellers, speaking up is a duty. But leading to the gap, the Truth Teller can become the Deceiver, characterized by the creation of suspicion. It’s the leader who withholds information, the boss who tells half-truths, the manager who doesn’t address concerns–all forms of holding back that create a culture of suspicion.

Three ways to leverage the Truth Teller and banish the Deceiver:

  • Always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It may hurt for a while, but deceit hurts forever.
  • Let people be part of the solution. Whatever the problem, allow others to participate in solving it.
  • Talk straight. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

The Hero

The Hero is courageous–willing to put their career at risk for a shot at greatness. Heroes act when others will not, even in the face of fear and overwhelming opposition. But leading up to the gap, the Hero can become the Bystander, characterized by fear. The Bystander is paralyzed by inaction and driven by fear. They keep you playing small and stuck where you are.

Three ways to leverage the Hero and banish the Bystander:

  • If you see something, do something. The things we fail to do become our limits.
  • If you hear something, say something. Treat fear as an obstacle that can be overcome.
  • Feel the fear but do it anyway. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

The Inventor

The inventor is brimming with integrity, constantly searching for the best way to improve processes and products and to perfect their craft. They are experimenters who make many small bets and are willing to fail in pursuit of big wins. They seek quality and excellence, with integrity always paramount. But leading up to the gap, the Inventor can become the Destroyer, characterized by corruption. Willing to cut corners and do whatever is expedient, the Destroyer works by compromising quality.

Three ways to leverage the Inventor and banish the Destroyer:

  • Make excellence a habit. Treat everything you do as your very best work.
  • Keep your promises. Don’t agree to anything you don’t intend to do.
  • Make integrity part of everything you do. There’s no other path to becoming a person of thorough integrity.

The Navigator

The navigator has a way of making the complicated simple and the simple understandable, masterfully steering their organization and the people within it to ever better outcomes. Their hallmark is trust–given and received. But leading up to the gap, the Navigator can become the Fixer, marked by arrogance. The Fixer tells people what to do instead of navigating the way alongside them, bossy and often aggressive.

Three ways to leverage the Navigator and banish the Fixer:

  • Fix the fixer within you. Remember that trying to fix people isn’t a good way to be valued or appreciated.
  • Empower people. Show them they’re smarter than they think.
  • Set boundaries and don’t cross them. Teach people how to treat each other by modeling a good example of not crossing boundaries. Once you set them, keep them.

The Knight

The Knight loyalty is everything. They are always looking for opportunities to serve and protect. But leading up to the gap, the Knight can become the self-serving Mercenary, who tries to lead by self-absorption or self-obsession is a person who will not succeed.

Three ways to leverage the Knight and banish the Mercenary:

  • Learn what it means to serve others. Everyone can succeed when everyone serves.
  • If you want respect, first give respect. It’s a two-way street.
  • Protect what you love and those you love. The best protection of all is loyalty.

The people who succeed–the Rebels, Explorers, Truth Tellers, Heroes, Inventors, Navigators and Knights–know how to stand in their greatness, while the others–the Imposters, Exploiters, Deceivers, Bystanders, Fixers and Mercenaries–lead from their gaps inevitably fall short of the mark.

If you are interested in learning more about the leadership gap and how it can help you understand the patterns that will help you succeed, order your copy of The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness



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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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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.

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