I remember my first leadership position like it was yesterday. Especially, the frustration of not being able to influence those I led positively. Luckily, a mentor shared a statement that changed the way I thought about the situation and ultimately leadership development. She said, “Have you ever considered that you are part of the problem, and part of the solution?”
After reflecting on how I was the problem it became clear my leadership style was about being in control. Not only did I do my job, I tried to do everyone else’s too. If I couldn’t I told them how to do their work. When problems occurred, I blamed them for the mistakes. Over time, I reverted to my office behind closed doors wondering what to do.
That’s right, I was an ogre that led by command and control. Moreover, those I was responsible for serving simply showed up for work and left on time. And why shouldn’t they. After all, I was treating them like a thing vs. allowing them to use their talents to make a difference.
Armed with a new mindset, I was able to focus on how to change my leadership style to build trust with my followers. Here’s three ways to avoid sabotaging your ability to lead. I call these my leadership don’ts.
1. Don’t be the Lone Ranger! Your job is to get results through others, not to do everything yourself. Trying to take on every task yourself will lead to burnout and destroy trust among subordinates. The key to achieving greater results is through delegation. Delegation has many benefits. First, you will increase your trustworthiness as a leader and have extra time for more important tasks. Additionally, delegating tasks to team members develops their ability, improves their self-esteem and leads to better ideas to problems.
2. Don’t Jump to Solutions! When you jump to solutions and react on impulse, you waste time and frustrate others, especially when the solution is wrong. The next time a problem occurs unexpectedly, stop and think instead of pointing fingers or flying off the handle. Instead of trying to solve the problems on your own, propose solutions as a whole team. First, share how you define the problem and allow others to share their thoughts. Next, gather data to determine possible causes. With the possible causes identified, allow others to share their ideas to solve the issue. In most cases, they will provide ideas you have not thought of before. Additionally, the team will embrace the change because they were involved in the problem solving process.
3. Don’t Suffer in Silence! When things go wrong (and it will happen!), don’t become withdrawn and quiet. Even if it is your nature to deal with problems on your own, the silent route will only eat you alive. Problems kept internally can cause you to lose sleep and destroy relationships with your employees. Now is the perfect time to rally the troops and share the reality of the situation, rather than trying to deal with all of the issues on your own. Whether it is a personal issue or work-related problem, other people are willing and love to help, if only they know what you are going through. By talking openly, you give them the opportunity to make a difference.
The leadership don’ts can be very easy to fall into, especially when you fail to realize it is happening to you. Therefore, the biggest realization in all of this is learning to be accountable to oneself. Unfortunately, people rarely like to admit their faults; it is a natural inherent desire to be founded and grounded to your belief system. But those leaders who are the most successful grab hold of the concept, admit their mistakes and embrace the need for change.
There will always be relationship or communication issues in the workplace. The goal is to not sabotage your leadership by allowing erosion of trust and respect. So start by ditching the leadership don’ts and accept that you DO need others. Also, remember employees WANT to help. They are not at work just to receive a steady paycheck. Instead, they want to work in an environment in which they can contribute their full creative powers to make a difference in the lives of others.
Questions: In your experience how have you been the problem and how can you become the solution?
I speak, train, and write about mastering self-leadership for better thinking, better behavior and better results especially during difficult times. I am also a contributing author of the book ‘Speaking of Success’ along with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield and Stephen Covey and 1 0f 51 contributors to the ’17 Biblical Principles of Success’ audio CD program.
Feel free to contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter @power2transform.
Visit www.power2transform.com to download
- My book chapter ‘The 5 Enables of Success and
- Biblical Principle #11: Self-Control MP3
As a leader, you make one of two assumptions about the people you are responsible for influencing to get results. One assumption is people are lazy and only think about what’s best for them and must be told what to do, or nothing will get done. With this view, you probably spend most of your leadership time by controlling and monitoring employee behavior trying to achieve organizational goals. Additionally, you probably do not see the value in team development.
The other assumption is you see people as wanting to learn and grow, assume more responsibility and make a difference for the team and organization. Furthermore, you invest time in the development of employees to improve team trust and increase productivity. You understand that people desire more responsibility and want to use their talents to the fullest.
I encourage you to read and follow Robert Conklin’s quote to maintain a healthy view of others. When you do, your employees willingly invest their talents to achieve the highest levels of performance for your organization!
Unless you are one of the very few people who have been fortuitous enough to be self employed throughout the duration of your career, chances are you’ve had a boss; or several. Even highly successful CEOs had to work their way up the ladder through the experiences they learned within a corporate atmosphere. The leader of an organization ideally is one who shapes the individuals of their team in a nurturing climate that helps them to grow, excel and strive for excellence. There are many different styles that a leader can adopt to ensure the success of their subordinates.
Yet, there is also one leadership style that does just the opposite. A toxic leader, toxic boss or a toxic manager is a term used to describe the leader of an organization who does more harm than good to the wellbeing of a company. Instead of using positive reinforcement, employee engagement and encouragement, the toxic leader will be more apt to use bullying, yelling, threatening, punishments, belittling or condescending behaviors to try to achieve results from the staff. Maybe a simple and easy way to describe this type of leader is the “Boss from Hell”.
The unfortunate aspect of a toxic leader is that very often the person is completely oblivious of the harm done, or that there is even a problem with this type of leadership style. They think that in order to get people to do things they want, they must monitor and control the employees by using negative strategies. Instead of listening to new ideas, they shut people down. When an employee does something wrong – either because they were not trained properly or just accidently – the toxic leader screams and yells or writes up the employee instead of showing the person how it can be done differently, or better. They may even carry on these antics in front of other staff to set an example, making the employee feel like crawling under a table with embarrassment and humiliation. Read more
In the knowledge worker era employees are responsible for managing themselves. For this to occur leaders must develop an environment where employees feel safe. In this video Simon Sinek shares why safety is important to an organization’s success.
How are you creating a safe environment for your employees?
The concept of transparent leadership is one that is being adopted by many organizations across the board, yet its core premise is one that has yet to be fully embraced. At the root of this ideal remains an underlying fear among upper management, executives and CEOs that by accepting such concepts would imply a show of weakness that would trickle down to subordinates and be seen by superiors as a hosh-posh. In other words, a big mistake.
This certain hesitation is understandable, however it can be overcome by comprehending the values surrounding the transparent leadership buzz. When people think of the word transparent, they think of ‘see-through’ or opaque, like glass. Therefore, applying this term to being a leader doesn’t seem to go together and what people do not fully understand they usually reject. Read more
Picture yourself bowling and as you release the ball for the first time the lights go out over the pins. You hear the pins falling but can’t see how many you knocked down. Looking around the bowling alley you see no one, so you yell out, “Hey the light are out over the pins and I can’t see how many I knocked down.” A voice out of know where replies, “There are two standing.” You shout, “Which two?” The voice replies “Don’t bother me I am busy, just bowl again.”
Despite the conditions you continue to bowl and when you finish the tenth frame you here the voice say, “I can talk now.” You say, “How did I do?” The voice replies, “Terrible!”
Even if you were a good bowler this wouldn’t be a surprise since you weren’t provided specific feedback. Also, you weren’t permitted to see the results of your actions, and therefore you couldn’t make improvements in your performance. Instead the ineffective feedback evaluated your bowling as terrible. In fact, 50 percent of what appears to be employee motivational problems can be attributed to ineffective feedback provided by 360° reports, peer reviews, and one-on-one sessions.
Three Keys to Effective Feedback
1. Effective Feedback Begins With Discussing Actual Behavior
It is important you describe a person’s specific behavior. Don’t attempt to guess at the “intent” of their behavior. Discuss the actual behavior you saw, heard, or read. You cannot see someone being close-minded or having a bad attitude.
You can’t!! You can see them interrupting others and not allowing them to share their viewpoints. You can see reports with spelling errors. Seeing these behaviors only allows you to draw a conclusion about their attitude. Tell them what you saw, hear or read, not what you concluded and don’t label.
Ineffective: “I’m tired of you being rude. I can’t cover for you any longer.”
More Effective: “Jim, when you talk over others in meetings; when you say you just don’t get it; or when you come late to meetings and leave in the middle…”
Key words: “…When you…”
2. Describe the Impact of the Behavior
Remember that no one ever acts in a way that they believe is unreasonable; their behavior always makes sense to them and sometimes they are genuinely unaware of the negative impact of their behavior. Once you have described what you observed, tell them what you felt or what impact it had on the organization, project, or team. A phrase that captures this thought is, “When you do this, here’s what happens” or, “When you do this, I feel…”
Ineffective: “How come you are always rude to others in meeting?
More Effective: “Jim, when you roll your eyes and talk over others”, here’s what happens. People are unwilling to give their input. You lose opportunities to team with others to improve customer satisfaction. I have to take the time smooth things over, and I feel frustrated. This will lead me to be more careful when assigning you future assignments.”
Key words: “Here’s what happens…”
3. Discuss Next Steps to Reinforce Correct Behavior
Even with positive feedback, it is most effective to reinforce the continuation of the sought after behavior. Being clear that you want it to continue increases the chances that it will be continued. When the feedback is corrective, it is important the person understands what they did and the impact of their behavior. Once this occurs it is time to work out how to change the behavior in the future. At this point, the person must really own their efforts. If you simply impose a change, they will be less likely to enact the change. Ask open-ended or leading questions to start this process, such as: “What do you think you can do in this area?” “How should we approach this?” “What ideas do you have to improve here?” It is possible that they will have no input, for various reasons. It is still more effective to give them the opportunity once or even twice to identify ways to improve.
Ineffective: “So what you need to do Jim, is no control the meeting? That’s not too much to ask, is it?”
More Effective: “What can you do about this? How can I help you?” “Any thoughts on how you can allow other people to share their ideas?”
Key words: “What can you do about this?” Or, for positive feedback, “Thank you – keep providing the diagrams in your report. The diagrams help me understand your rationale!”
Everyone has blind spots, which can be like bowling in the dark; hence we need timely input from others with the intended purpose of helping us change our behavior and improve performance.
Effective feedback is always about future behavior. It’s NOT about the past, because there’s nothing we can do about the past. We want to get different behavior when it’s for improvement and we want more of the same behavior if it’s positive.
When everyone in your organization views feedback as valuable—whether it’s corrective or complimentary—you’re well on your way toward creating an excellent organization with sustained high performance.
1. Think of the last time you gave someone feedback. Did you judge or evaluate the person? Or did you describe the behavior the person could correct to improve their performance?
2. If you judged or evaluated the person, what behaviors did you observe that led you to this conclusion?
3. Now’s your opportunity to correct the situation. Read the three keys again and use them to create an opportunity to help someone you care about. After all you would appreciate the same treatment.