Quit Sabotaging You & Your Amazing Team


Sabotaging happens! Leading a big responsibility that requires you to navigate a demanding schedule, deal with a multitude of personalities, and complete an endless list of tasks in an effort to achieve lofty goals. Along the way, it’s not uncommon for leaders to sabotage themselves and sabotage their team. When that happens, everyone loses!

Nearly ten years ago, my husband and I decided to celebrate our 30th anniversary by pampering ourselves at a luxurious beach resort in the Bahamas. My husband and I are avid readers and spent the bulk of our time poolside with a book in hand. It was a refreshing escape and a chance to meet some interesting people, including a gal we met poolside.

When you love reading, you are always on the hunt for great books. You notice what others are reading, and are curious if what they are reading is something you would also enjoy. That quest is what sparked a conversation with a gal I will call Katie. After comparing notes on what we were reading, the conversation soon turned to that “what do you do” conversation.

I discovered that in addition to sharing a love of books, we also had something else in common – we were both self-employed. Katie proudly declared herself a “workaholic” and the one and only woman in the Eastern US that did what she did in a male dominated field – maybe the only woman in the US! A rare bird to be sure!

Just a few short minutes into talking with her it became obvious that Katie wasn’t very energized by her work. Even though she was unique in her field, the 70+ hours a week she poured into her work literally zapped the life out of her. She used words like trapped, stuck, and frustrated repeatedly. She and her retired husband had downsized with the intention that she would also retire, yet, as she put it, “her ego” would not let her.

And That’s Not All..

The struggles didn’t end there. Not one of the five men she employed came anywhere close to matching her capabilities – at least in her mind. In fact, none of the men who had previously worked for her had successfully accomplished this either. She felt the men were unwilling to work the 70+ hours it required to be “successful” and to top it off, she didn’t hesitate to brag about how handsomely she paid them in spite of their inability to deliver. Hmmm!

As our chat went on, it became clear that her issues were less about the skill and desire of those working for her and a whole lot more about her leadership. She was sabotaging her team and there was no mistaking that she was utterly incapable of seeing the role she played in the stagnant state of her team.

Katie was her own worst enemy!

Not only was Katie sabotaging her team, but her intense need to prove herself in a male dominated field was holding her back too! Her life was completely out of balance. She was stressed to the point it had taken a toll on her health. And let me tell you, Katie was void of joy!

It was grim!

It would be easy to point fingers at all the mistakes that Katie was making, but I know I’ve been my own worst enemy at times as well. How about you?

When I refuse to take responsibility, when I play the victim, refuse to get proactive, or my motives are wacky it’s inevitable – I will sabotage myself. And that naturally sabotages those I lead too.

So, how do you stop sabotaging yourself and those you lead? Here are three things to think about:

1. Stop Trying to Prove Your Worth

Striving is an attempt to prove that you are valuable and successful.

News flash: striving never leads to peace, fulfillment, or success! Striving only wears you out! It tricks you into operating out of a scarcity mentality which negatively impacts everything you do.

Your worth is determined by who you are in Christ. He views you as chosen, abundantly loved, created for a purpose, forgiven, and redeemed. Secure in Him, you don’t have to prove how competent, successful, or unique you are. You are able to relax and cease striving.

What would happen if you operated from a place of worthiness, abundance, and confidence? How would that change the way you live and lead?

2. Stop Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

Sadly, all of Katie’s eggs were in the work basket. In fact, the thought of putting work behind her and retiring was terrifying because she had no idea how to reconnect with those long-lost parts of herself. While she was miserable working 24/7, the unknown was even more daunting.

Like Katie, you are a complex and interconnected person. Your work impacts your personal life and your personal life impacts your work. If you want to be a leader that makes a positive impact, you have a better chance of doing that when you are a whole, well-rounded individual.

Pouring yourself into your work to the exclusion of the other areas of your life is like putting all your eggs in one basket. Hello! You know that’s not an effective investment strategy and it’s not a great life strategy either.

So, make a concerted effort to intentionally nurture all of the areas of your life – your career AND your…

      • Relationships – you were made for relationship
      • Spiritual life – the most important relationship is with God!
      • Health – after all, without it everything suffers
      • Finances – if you spend wisely you don’t have to work so hard
      • Leisure – relaxing and having fun is essential and rejuvenating
      • Intellect – the change to grow, develop as a leader, and mature
      • Emotions – when you disconnect from your emotions, it can take an unnecessary tole on you and react in ways you aren’t be proud of

And a little side benefit: making time for all of you forces you to work smarter – not harder.

Be honest, how connected are you to all of you? What areas of your life are you actively investing in? What areas are you neglecting and sabotaging yourself?

Just for fun, you might want to evaluate your life here.

3. Stop Blaming Everyone Else

The blame thing is not new. Going back to Adam and Eve, humans are prone to blaming others rather than taking responsibility for their choices.

While you might try to deny it, the state of your life, the success of your team, and your overall happiness are your responsibility!

Working 24/7 was Katie’s choice. Unfortunately, she relished being the martyr and expected everyone else to match her martyr ways. She would have benefited from some deep soul searching to get to the bottom of why she relished working so hard.

Unfortunately, she believed the lie that working 70 hours a week was the key to success. That led to expecting her team to work the same excessive hours so she could work less, however, she didn’t take the time to help them develop and grow in their work. They fully understood that she would pay well, complain a lot, and that things would remain the same.

Rather than blaming her team, if Katie had set clear expectations, given clear feedback, and followed through with rewards and/or consequences along with investing in her people, then her situation would have changed.

Even worse, Katie would rush in to save the day rather than coaching her team through situations she felt they were not handling well. This is counterproductive for three reasons because it:

    1. Prevents her team from learning and growing
    2. Sends the message to her team that they are inept at solving the tough problems
    3. Teaches her people that they don’t have to work hard – she will pick up their slack

Where do you find yourself blaming or complaining? What would it look like if you took responsibility? How are you enabling your team?

You may not lead a company like Katie or engage in such extreme ways. Maybe you simply lead yourself or your children; perhaps your leadership role is in ministry or at work. No matter where you lead, you may be sabotaging yourself and be your own worst enemy. And that means you are sabotaging your team too.

What changes do you need to make to lead more successfully and be your own greatest ally?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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