The One Thing Getting in the Way of Your Professional Growth

The One Thing Getting in the Way of Your Professional Growth

I’ve never stopped learning and striving to improve my professional development. The most difficult challenge is that I cannot rely solely on self-awareness to identify and modify behaviors that may be holding me back.

When life gets busy or work becomes stressful, we are all guilty of falling back into our comfort zones. One way to help in the process of uncovering areas of strengths and weaknesses is by taking an assessment. The first time I took a professional assessment, I was obsessed with learning what my results meant and how I could take the information and become more effective in all areas of my life, not just at work.

If you haven’t taken The Effective Leader Profile Assessment, I suggest you do so! It is eye-opening and empowering to have an instant reading of your leadership as it stands today. But the real magic happens when you choose to take action after your results are revealed.

So if you’re a/an Exploiter, Pleaser, Ruler, or Welder. What does it all mean?

These leader profiles are fluid. If you are an Exploiter today, you can become a Welder. The opposite is also true. If you are a Welder today, you may slide into one of the other profiles.

But before you make changes or improvements to what you’re doing today, pause and take a moment to understand the profiles. Maybe you’ve fallen into other profiles at different times in your career or life? Do you know someone who fits a different leadership profile?

Love and Discipline Profiles.001

To add an element of fun, we’ve used characters from our favorite television show, This is Us, to give context to each profile.


The Exploiter has never been about the team and thinks about number one first. They often use their positions of power to rule from the high tower, push people instead of pull, and rarely lead from the front lines. Here are a few other highlights:

  • Scores low in love and discipline.
  • Manipulates situations to their advantage.
  • Rarely loved by their direct reports.
  • Highly driven by financial success.

Kevin is a perfect example of an Exploiter. At the beginning of the season, he cares about no one but himself. He calls his sister, Kate at all hours of the day to help him with his problems without considering her needs. He also tries to manipulate other people to get ahead in his career. Spoiler Alert: Throughout the season, we see Kevin evolve in his relationship with Sophie, his ex-wife. He may be moving towards Welder status.


The Pleaser has a difficult time giving constructive feedback and prefers harmony over conflict or discomfort. They often let poor behavior or questionable work go without saying a word in an effort to “protect” the other person’s feelings.

  • Scores high in love, low in discipline.
  • Looks out for the interests of others over their own.
  • May get taken advantage of by their direct reports.
  • Often passed over for promotions.


Kate is a Pleaser. She avoids confronting people, and instead is in search of group harmony. Her brother, Kevin, takes full advantage of her kindness and uses her, even when he doesn’t really need her. Kate takes on other people’s problems and looks to serve them. Meanwhile, she is holding in so many emotions that create an unhealthy environment for her personal and professional growth.


The Ruler loves process, whether it’s needed or not. They love to feel in control and conflict often arises if their control is threatened. They keep their direct reports at a distance and spend little to no time building relationships.

  • Scores high in discipline, low in love.
  • Driven by a set rulebook. Rigid.
  • Typically gets good or bad results quickly.
  • May have a difficult time sustaining long-term success due to team burnout.

Randall is a total Ruler. This guy even makes the bed in his hotel room. We see him living by a set of rules and order throughout his life. He creates a sense of perfection for himself. If things begin to go off course, he can’t handle it. His rigidity in his career has proven successful, but that all changes. The only challenge in using Randall as an example of a Ruler is that it doesn’t appear that he holds others around him to the same standards he sets for himself. Usually, Rulers as leaders will set and hold others to similar standards.


The Welder is the leader people want to follow. They pull people, as opposed to pushing them. They don’t shy away from jumping right in on the front lines. They aren’t afraid to show some tough love and have the difficult conversations in order to help their people reach higher levels of performance.

  • Scores high in discipline, high in love.
  • Has deep relationships with their direct reports.
  • Generates organizational leaders from direct reports.
  • Sustains long-term success and results.

Jack is our Welder. He gives his family equal parts love and discipline. I think we all wish we had fathers like Jack (or maybe you did). Although Jack had his own challenges, he didn’t let that stop him from helping his kids become their best selves. Welders can always improve, and Jack still had a lot of work to do to become a Super Welder, but he was on the right path.

Now you have a better view of your leadership profile, you can begin to take action to improve in areas you may be lacking. To all the Welders out there: you may be a Welder, but are you the absolute best Welder you can be? What are you doing to not only maintain your status as a Welder, but grow into a Super Welder?