Develop Detachment to Improve Your Leadership

Develop Detachment to Improve Your Leadership February 14, 2011

One of the hallmarks of effective leadership is the ability to distance oneself from a work situation and to look at it with detachment. By “helicoptering” over an issue, problem or decision, you as a leader can be more objective because you can see the situation from a less self-centered view.  When you look at what’s going on from a distance and minimize the “it’s about me” factor, you can improve your critical thinking skills and often find new and creative alternatives.

In the CEO forums I have facilitated over the years, I’ve seen some hard driving CEOs come to their peer group with an issue that initially appears cut and dry. Upon examination and input from the group, they see or are confronted with new alternatives that weren’t evident.  I recall one CEO who decided based on industry trends, to project a flat growth year. When he presented his analysis for the year to his peers, he was shocked to hear some of them challenge him by saying things like, “Why don’t you just go play golf if you can’t find any alternatives?” Or “Being honest with yourself is certainly better than playing the victim – is this a self fulfilling prophecy?” It was this type of feedback that opened the door for the CEO to let go of his blinders and see other alternatives for growing the business. And he did indeed grow his business 12% that year; something he couldn’t have done without the push to a new level of exploration.

So how do you develop the ability to detach yourself from a situation so that you look at the key factors from a new place? In other words, how can you learn this skill of detachment?  Among the most effective ways I’ve observed is by having the opportunity to bring your situation, problem or decision to a peer group made up of leaders from diverse backgrounds that you can trust. The composition of the group is important since you want to tap into the collective intelligence and experience of the group. The best peer groups are made up of people who are consistently raising the bar for themselves and others. They are learners who want to grow and influence the growth of others. Whether a peer group is made up of CEOs or people in various leadership positions, peer forums can serve as a platform for distancing oneself from those who have a vested interest in the outcome like other employees or board members and facilitate the distancing of oneself from his or her situation to see things in a new light. To hear more about this experience, click here: