Does This Hold You Back as a Leader?


How you “show up” in different situations tells others a lot about who you are as a leader. That’s why I focus on this so much with every person I coach.

And your mindset dramatically affects the way you “show up.” To get a better sense of your own mindset, let’s explore how much you see the world in terms of scarcity vs. opportunity. How often do you engage in the following behaviors? (Even if you don’t do this, this article might help you give feedback to someone who does.)

  • Withholding information that could be useful to others, to give you an edge.

  • Refraining from making an introduction to someone in your network because you don't want to share that person as a resource.

  • Defining success or prioritizing based only on your piece (or your team's piece) of a project or situation instead of the bigger picture.

  • Being exclusive vs. inclusive — for example, inviting only certain people to take part in meetings or a project instead of thinking broadly about who should participate.

  • Focusing more on what you stand to lose vs. what everyone might gain.

In politically dynamic environments, many of these behaviors emerge far more frequently. There may even be positive intent behind some of these behaviors. For example, you might be thinking, “I have to make sure I can deliver, so I’m going to prioritize and focus on what I really need. I don’t want anything or anyone else to get in the way.”

But if a lot of these statements resonated with you, your worry and concern about limited resources (i.e., a scarcity mindset) could be making you less effective as a leader. Let’s take a look at some of the significant consequences that come with each of the behaviors above:

  • Working around you to get information or resources

  • Less information or resource-sharing with you because others don’t trust you

  • Engaging people with influence or power to make you comply or share information

  • Limitations on your career advancement because you are considered a roadblock, difficult to work with, or more concerned about your own interests instead of what’s best for the company

Ultimately, all of this affects how much people are willing to trust and invest in you.

It's Time to Shift Your Focus

The good news is that you can shift out of the scarcity mindset and make a bigger impact as a leader.

Viewing situations from a place of scarcity comes from seeing situations at the micro level instead of the macro one. It's focusing on the short term vs. the long term and the few (you and your team) vs. the many (the overall organization). The truth is that there are more opportunities, rewards and recognition to go around than you realize. You can create win/win situations.

The next time you find yourself saying “no” or resisting, stop to think about why. How much of your reaction ties to your assumptions about scarce resources, whether that’s time, budget, or valuable connections? How narrowly are you framing the other person’s need or request in your head? Prompting yourself to take a bigger picture perspective, whether that’s one that considers your long-term career or your company’s goals, will open you up to more possibilities about how to best navigate a situation.

To further elevate your presence as a leader, check out my Leadership EDGE SeriesSM. It covers a variety of topics and will help you show up powerfully in every situation.