Fatal Flaws

There were twelve of us. We came from various parts of the world (Italy, Australia, China, UK, France, India, USA, Canada, Brazil, Malaysia) to learn about how to lead well, members of the inaugural  fast-track executive course  in the global company we worked in.

We met in different cities every quarter, and then returned to our respective business areas to implement the learning. We reported our progress to the CEO and his team.

Today we’re in the boardroom of an imposing office building, one of many in a sprawling office campus in Dallas, Texas.

We are learning how to build high-performing teams.

“There are two fatal flaws.”

“Did I hear that right? Surely, that’s an exaggeration!” I thought.

“Low self-awareness and the inability to learn: these are fatal flaws in the workplace and in life,” he continued.

It has been a long time since that lesson.

From experience, I also learned that fatal flaws are not always built-in. They can creep in on you over time.

Like concrete cancer.

Complacency can lead to a sense of self that is in a time-warp.
“I was rated exceptional when I did this. I am still a high performer today.”

Ego can build insurmountable walls that prevent learning from other people.
“I know more than him. I have been doing this for 20 years. What can he teach me that’s new?”

Envy can prevent adopting new ways or adapting an old way to become new.
“Is that the latest tool? Well, I’ll build one of my own that would be better!”

Fear can stymie learning.
“If I agree to adapt and do it their way, they may end up doing my job!”

I have learned that to maintain high-performing teams is also about preventing these fatal flaws from creeping in.

What is your experience about fatal flaws?

How have you prevented these from creeping in?

What do you do when you see the signs already operating in your team?

I wrote a version of this post that first appeared on the NBN Co intranet site on October 18, 2013.

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