Imagine what it would feel like running with ankle weights. What comes to mind? Heavy? Impossible? Torturous? Slow? Laboring? 

Weights help with strength training. If you are a runner, strength training is a great way to improve your speed and efficiency and can protect you from injuries. That is why many runners add weight training to their running program. They might even add ankle weights when doing leg exercises like hamstring curls.

But they don’t use ankle weights while they are running

Why? Using ankle weights while running doesn’t improve the runners’ strength. Using ankle weights when running can negatively impact the runner’s form and may result in injury.

Why should you care about this analogy if you are not a runner? As leaders, we all have habits and automatic behaviors that are not serving us and getting in our way. They are like wearing ankle weights while we are running. At best, they are slowing us down from reaching our goals or decreasing the impact we want to have. At worst, our leadership is headed in the wrong direction, and we may injure ourselves (our reputation, relationships with direct reports, peers, managers, etc.).

Is it slowing you down?

What behaviors are you exhibiting that act like ankle weights for you? If you don’t know, what are the things slowing you down, feeling heavy, or feeling very labor intensive (and not energy producing) when you are doing them? That might give you a clue about your leadership ankle weights.

These burdens may have been on your ankles for a while. They may have been on so long that you don’t remember what it feels like without them. It also may take time to remove them thoroughly. Now, imagine how freeing and lighter it will feel when you are they are released. I hope that feeling acts as a catalyst for you to investigate your weaknesses more fully.