By Joanne Hutchinson MBA


Are great leaders born or made? 

There is so much debate on this fundamental question.  

Leadership is a never-ending voyage of discovery.  For me, I believe leadership is an inside job, that all growth comes from within, and the external world really mirrors to you where those opportunities are for growth and evolution.  In this article, I am going to talk about three common leadership traps (there are of course more than three, but I’ll leave that for another article!) which I call the 3P’s.


The THREE P’s that might be sabotaging your success


#1 – People Pleasing.  As human beings, we are naturally affiliated with the desire to be liked, to feel like we belong, and we are one of the team.  People pleasing shows up as wanting to look good in front of others, holding back what we’d really like to say and trying to please everyone.  As the saying goes, ‘when we try to please everyone, we please no-one’ and become ineffective as a leader as this is simply an impossible task.

As a Leadership Coach, I often here people talk about how ‘nice’ their leader is.  And of course, we all want to work with ‘nice’ people.  It’s only when it’s an unconscious pattern and a default way of being that masks a deeper fear of not being liked that it becomes a problem. 

We may find it hard to make a decision for fear of upsetting someone in the team.  We may tolerate poor performance, suppress our true feelings and feel stressed when there is any discord in the team as we value harmony over conflict.  We may hide our emotions and avoid voicing our opinion especially if it is different to others.

With self-awareness, the conscious leader recognises this pattern and turns within to uncover what thought or belief is driving this behaviour.  Worrying about what other people will think of you is simply out of your hands – becoming a conscious leader means shifting your focus to your role, who you are, and what you are here to do.


#2 – Perfectionism – Need I say more!  This is where we have to have everything perfect before we can take that next step, for this reason it can lead to procrastination. 

Like any of these traits, there is a place where they are in balance and don’t show up as a leadership trap.  For example, there are some things that we expect 100% precision – surgery would be one of them for me!  But there are countless other experiences that are ‘imperfect’ and yet we yield to not being seen to make a mistake like re-writing a report a hundred times, or sitting on sending that team email for days because you’re still tweaking it and doubting yourself.

In a world where businesses value innovation, I have always struggled how leaders frown on making mistakes. It’s no surprise that leaders become perfectionists for fear of judgment, missed career opportunities and the feelings that it brings up like ‘not being good enough’ or ‘fear of failure’, and therefore needing to protect and preserve oneself with incessant checking. 

We live in an imperfect world and I love the Japanese concept of kintsugi where broken ceramics are fixed with golden lacquer and considered more beautiful than before they were broken.  The Japanese understand the concept of impermanence and imperfection which are judgements, and use this to create a beautiful new experience.

Conscious leaders learn to accept things as they are, to see things through the lens of a learning opportunity and to make certain they publicly own their mistakes.  After all, we are human and ‘imperfect in our perfection’.


#3 Pride – Whether we like it or not, we all have an ego which when in balance serves us well.  It becomes a trap when out of balance, and we become self-serving, ‘my way or the highway’, and see ourselves or our role as more important than others. We are also more prone to blaming others for mistakes when things are not working, and even being a bit arrogant forcing our opinions and views on others.

There is nothing better than feeling proud of what you have achieved and your accomplishments.  These serve you well.

Like perfectionism, a conscious leader recognises the role of the ego, and can admit when they’re wrong.  They learn to master the art of becoming a great listener, to be open to different perspectives and willing to change their point of view as needed for the good of the business.  They let of the need to be ‘right’ all the time and recognise the power of a diversified team.

I believe leadership is an inside job, that all growth comes from within, and the external world really mirrors to you where those opportunities are for continued growth and evolution so you can expand into more of your potential.  What trap resonates with you the most?

Talk soon,

Joanne x


𝑮𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝑺𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒊𝒕 – 𝒊𝒕’𝒔 𝒂 𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈.

Joanne (Jo) Hutchinson MBA is a Conscious Leadership Coach, Mentor and Facilitator.  She helps women own their power to become authentic leaders, realise their hidden potential to fulfil, create and lead conscious businesses that serve the greater good.

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