Thought Leadership

Executive Delusions & Roadblocks That Keep the Good From Becoming Great

Marshall Goldsmith once described the characteristics of “classic delusion” for me:

“I have the wisdom and courage to objectively evaluate my behavior”

“We all grossly overestimate our own will power”

“I don’t need help or structure to achieve my goals”

Marshall’s explanation of delusion has been a reoccurring thought over the past several weeks as I’ve observed highly talented senior leaders struggle to move from a “good group of leaders” to a “great team of leaders”.

The obstacles and difficulties to make this transformation for these teams are not related to external factors, but rather mental roadblocks or patterned perceptions that inhibit real breakthrough growth in executive teams.

If you want to change your business, leaders must change themselves. You can only improve and grow your business when leaders improve and grow.

I’ve been working with leaders for 20 years and the hardest work that any leader or team of leaders does is work that involves them personally. This is true for any of us. Yet to excel, at an individual, team or organizational level, it is work we must do.

There are executives and senior leadership teams that understand this and look at themselves as the starting point for change. Unfortunately, for many other executive teams, developing people, (themselves or others) is commonly neglected or left in the hands of human resources.

More often than not, leadership development is addressed from the “bottom up”, because senior leaders are too busy with other issues, think they are already good enough, or are reluctant to address their challenges publicly.

When senior leaders and executive teams own up to their own vulnerabilities, make it a priority and ask others to hold them accountable for this growth, it sends an incredibly positive and powerful message for everyone in the organization. “I’ll be the example I expect of others”, they say with these actions.

Here are three questions that every executive team can benefit from:

  1. When I’m really honest, how well are we performing, as the most senior leadership team in this company?
  2. When I look at how leaders collaborate in this senior team, what example does this set for the rest of the organization?
  3. To what degree do I profit from my senior leadership team as a learning and development resource for me? In other words, can I share what I am struggling with in this senior team, or do keep such matters to myself?

These questions are the starting point for leadership teams that want to take ownership of their executive agenda. Let me share ten additional roadblocks that prevent good leadership teams from becoming great. See if you can spot areas that relate to you or your team:

Roadblocks in the Path of Good to Great

  1. We don’t recognize the potential to exploit in a true team of leaders.
  2. We’re at the top and others need to develop.
  3. We don’t have anyone that really challenges us or holds us accountable.
  4. When something in our business isn’t working well, we can usually find the reason for non-performance or lack of effectiveness in another area of the business.
  5. The senior leader or CEO doesn’t know how or isn’t willing to develop a team of thoroughbreds into a functioning and cohesive team.
  6. We haven’t truly clarified what we do and what we don’t do.
  7. We take on too many tasks and don’t focus on only what we can do.
  8. We don’t use feedback to check the effectiveness of our executive sessions, town hall meetings and exchanges with others groups in our business.
  9. Members of this group don’t experience the work in the senior leader team as important as their individual leadership functional work.

Senior leadership teams have issues coming at them all the time, there’s a huge amount of pressure and stress at this level and there isn’t enough time in the day to solve every issue. Yet senior leaders must have the resolve to recognize that they are the example that everyone follows. Being busy is simply not enough to move from good to great. Everyone’s busy, there is nothing great about that.

I work with leadership teams because this is where profound results are created. Everything starts with the leadership team. Anything else is a distraction.

Don’t let delusions, distractions or roadblocks get in the way of your leadership team being just good, when you could be great.

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through his transformational growth process called Executive Ownershift®. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best. You can follow Dan at LinkedIn, at his blog or receive regular growth updates through his web site at


Contact Information

Dan Norenberg
Wensauerplatz 11
81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.