Leadership seems like a role anyone with confidence can perform but often leaders let their ego run the show and the results are unhappy employees, high turnover, and shoddy work.
Are you performing a leader role within your business? Whether you’re a manager, project manager, small business owner, or you oversee a team within a company, you have people whose duties are directed by you and whose performance you are judged by.
If you are the small business owner, when you get the “People-thing” right, your job gets easier and your profitability goes up significantly.
Leading that team means a lot more than dictating rules and directions, which is something many leaders take on as the primary duty of their role.
Today I’m going to talk about why you should not do that, what you can do to become a better leader, and what you can do to ensure you’re being a leader, not a dictator.
Get a transparent assessment of yourself from your peers
A peer for this exercise should be someone whom you trust and won’t have to worry about repercussions if their feedback is negative. To get the conversation rolling, ask them what you should stop, start and continue doing to be a better leader. If you are feeling especially brave, ask your entire team!
Learning to be a better leader requires an open mind and a willingness to learn from mistakes and negative feedback. If feedback is the breakfast of champions then it’s only a complete breakfast if you eat all of it including hearing about how you are doing a bad job in certain areas.
Understand this is constructive and don’t contest the feedback. Write it down and assess what you’ve heard and learned and then try applying the feedback to your role. You may find the results are better than you expect.
Be a leadership mentor
Depending on your role you may or may not have subordinates who are themselves leading a team within your team or business.
It’s always good to have someone in a secondary leadership role not only because you can delegate some responsibilities to them but also because when watching them you will learn more about yourself.
Seeing ourselves and our actions from a third party perspective isn’t easy but watching another leader and critiquing them certainly is. Instead of addressing them though, think about how they performed and how they were perceived and apply it to yourself.
Did they bark orders? Were they dismissive with employees? Were their expectations unreasonable? These things should be directed back at yourself and accepted if you are guilty of any of the same things they are.
Now refine your approach and let them know. Have a frank discussion about what you observed, how you interpreted it, and how you then applied the correction to your own behavior and how you also want them to modify theirs.
By doing this you not only learn to be a better leader you’ve helped develop their leadership skills too!
Give credit rather than taking it
Giving credit where credit is due seems like a no brainer but it’s one of the more overlooked aspects of effective leadership.
You may have gotten in the habit of addressing shortcomings but not applauding strengths and that will cause resentment and can result in poor performing employees or team members.
When someone does a good job within the team make sure you recognize it in some way. Even if it’s after the fact where you send a personal email or make a point to say thanks, it will mean the world to the recipient and a happy worker is a productive one.
If the project is a success don’t be too broad with the praise. Point out who excelled at what and in a genuine way. A roundtable of “thanks for…” doesn’t cut it. The more genuine the gratitude – the better it will be received.
Own your mistakes…and others’ too
Your mistakes are your mistakes and shoving blame off onto someone else is bad leadership. But don’t stop there!
When something goes wrong and you’re at the helm you are at least partially responsible even if in reality you’re blameless.
Your team looks to you for guidance and the problem with not taking team failures on yourself is whoever did make a mistake is now alone in the herd.
Leaving them to languish is not going to be productive so angle yourself into the fault and absorb the ramifications with your employee or team member.
In the short term you save someone from having to deal with failure alone and in the long term and in a broader way you learn from their mistakes and build loyalty with them and other employees who now know they can count on you when they need it most.
Seek collaborative vision
Your goals may be set by the business or project guidelines but does your team understand and agree with them?
As you work and achieve milestones, field opinions from your employees or team members. When ‘A’ was achieved by the specified date did it cause measurable improvement somewhere?
You can gain insight into the project or business and apply the dynamic feedback to your leadership. Maybe in focusing on your goal you forgot to check another area that has lapsed?
You may not see the opportunities because of the blinders leaders often have when focused on their own role and by incorporating your employees into the senior level of decision making, you’ll form better bonds with them and you’ll expand your business vision.
This step is ultimately the hardest for most since it seems like you’re exposing a weakness by asking for assistance but in reality, you’re conveying respect and the lack of ego will only endear you to your team!
If you need help in fully understanding how to work with your team to ensure the greatest business success, please get in touch – I’d be happy to assist.