Justin M. Deonarine is an industrial-organizational psychologist with Psychometrics Canada, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)-member company which provides a full spectrum of assessment consulting services to help businesses hire the right individuals at all levels of job responsibility and develop teams and leaders. We asked Justin to share the results of a survey conducted by Psychometrics Canada about the greatest obstacles leaders face. Here's what he learned:

As a lifelong learner, I find myself returning to the topic of leadership development regularly. It's a deep and complex topic, and certainly worth revisiting, particularly as we evolve throughout our careers.

In an article that I wrote a few years ago, I posed the question, "Can we improve current leadership development efforts?" The answer is probably obvious (yes!), and yet research shows the following:

  • Companies spend little of their training budget on leadership development.
  • Individuals openly share how ineffective these efforts are.

So where do you begin? No matter your management style or your industry, there are fundamental challenges shared by most leaders--and they make a perfect starting point for leadership training.

We recently had the opportunity to survey 297 professionals about their greatest obstacles as leaders. Their responses highlighted four common challenges: Negotiation, delegation, networking and responding to unexpected changes.

Let's delve into the first two here.


"So much of life is a negotiation. So even if you're not in business, you have opportunities to practice all around you." - Kevin O'Leary, founder, author and television personality

Of total respondents, 65% reported finding negotiation a challenge.

These leaders shared common characteristics. They were either not comfortable with brainstorming creative compromises or not naturally inclined toward making arguments based solely on logic. These individuals may associate the word "negotiation" with "conflict," while those who are comfortable with negotiation do not.

The best negotiators are those who are prepared. They understand what they and the other party want. Indeed, the saying from The Art of War holds true: "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

Successful negotiators are also open to compromises that benefit both parties, even if it means they don't get exactly what they want. If you are resistant to mutually beneficial compromises and maintain an "all-or-nothing" approach, then negotiation is bound to remain a stressful--and likely unsuccessful--ordeal.


"Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out." - Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States

Of our respondents, 58% named delegating tasks as a challenge.

Consider this: Delegation is not typically a problem for people who seek new solutions and energize others to act. These leaders see delegation as an opportunity to let others create solutions, as well as put their plans into action effectively.

A few months ago, I helped a client who was hesitant to delegate the implementation of a new initiative to her team. She feared that she would be burdening her team with a challenge that they were not ready for. So, she tried to tackle the launch by herself, and she was quickly overwhelmed.

I suggested that she see it as an opportunity for her team to collaborate and practice new skills, while the project would still be under her supervision. The team would be given a great opportunity to develop their strengths and cover for each other's weaknesses. In these conditions, team members grow as they learn from each other--and the overall organization grows as a result.

According to her last update, the team has risen to the challenge and successfully implemented the new initiative!

Interested in learning how to improve your networking skills or your ability to respond to unexpected changes? Check out the companion piece to this article, where we delve into the challenges of networking and responding to unexpected changes.