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
Carlos Ghosn was named CEO of Nissan in 2001. He transformed Nissan into one of the world’s most profitable companies. Ghosn now juggles three leadership roles: as chairman and CEO of Nissan, chairman and CEO of Renault, and chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In this interview he shares his perspective about leading successfully in the 21st century.
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3 Leadership Don’ts
Not so long ago, leaders were once thought to be like ogres. The employees tiptoed around the workplace like busy ants, doing their very best not to get reprimanded or be sent to the “principal’s” office. They did their jobs but couldn’t wait to leave and go home. There was gossip, a lack of communication and no trust. Furthermore, a sense of hostility coupled with miscommunication can lead to disaster, especially when the stakes are high and accuracy is a must. Although the leader may have been respected, it was respect out of fear, rather than respect of admiration.
Wouldn’t you rather be admired and liked by the employees? More and more leaders of today are learning to push the “ogre mentality” aside and embrace the opportunity to get to know the people they serve. They are finding that trusting them, caring about the wellbeing of their employees and families, teaching them and communicating with them goes a lot further to create a healthy workplace.
If your goal is to promote low staff turnover, improved customer loyalty and better quality produicts, here are Three Leadership Don’ts to stop immediately:
1. Don’t be the Alone Ranger! Your job is to get results through others, not to do everything yourself. The key to achieving greater results is through delegation. Trying to take on every task yourself will lead to burnout and destroy trust among subordinates.
2. Don’t Jump to Solutions! When faced with a problem, stop and think. It is a common human trait to point fingers, act upon instincts or even to fly off the handle when problems occur unexpectedly. Before jumping to solutions involve others. Together, define the problem, and then gather data to determine possible causes. Next, identify the root cause. Instead of trying to solve the problems on your own, propose solutions as a whole team. Other people may have ideas how the problems could be solved, some of which you may have never thought of before. Brainstorming can lead to everyone coming up with a great solution together. When you jump to solutions and react on impulse, you waste time and frustrate others, especially when the solution is wrong.
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 try to deal with problems on your own, the silent route will only eat you alive. Problems kept internally can cause you to lose sleep, or they can even mess up relationships with your employees, friends and family. This is the time to rally up the troops and share in the reality of the situation, rather than trying to deal with all of these 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. Talking out loud gives 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. Hence, perhaps the biggest realization in all of this is the aspect of accountability to oneself. Unfortunately, people rarely like to admit their own faults; it is a natural inherent desire to be founded and grounded to our belief system. But those leaders who are the most successful are those who are able to grab hold of the concept, admit their mistakes and embrace the need for change.
Take the time now to reflect upon and truthfully answer these questions:
- Do your employees trust you?
- Do you feel like a prisoner of your own thoughts?
- Do you analyze a situation before jumping to conclusions?
- Do you sometimes feel helpless or like things are out of control?
- Do people open up to you with their concerns, issues or problems?
- Do you feel frustrated by the workplace atmosphere at the moment?
- Do you fly off the handle or immediately react when a problem arises?
- Do you keep your problems to yourself and rarely share them with anyone?
- Do you wish you had more help but don’t trust others to do the tasks you need done as well as you could do them yourself?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, fear not. You are not a bad leader or a poor manager. And you probably don’t have bad employees, either. There can be a lot of relationship or communication issues in the workplace gone awry, but it can be improved slowly and trust can be repaired. Start by ditching the three leadership don’ts and accept that you DO need others. Also, remember employees WANT to be needed. 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.
Are You Making This Situational Leadership Mistake?
I stopped by a fast food establishment in TN last year and witnessed the following:
Employee: “Where do you want me to put the new oatmeal marketing displays?”
Manager: “You decide I am busy.”
Employee: “I want to make the right decision…this is my first time setting out marketing displays…where do you think the displays should go?”
Manager: “You will do the right thing…go ahead and make it happen.”
Now for the rest of the story…Once the employee finished placing the marketing displays you hear…
Manager: “You did not do this correctly…I would have never put the displays where you did!”
Employee: “But I…”
Manager: “Never mind I will do it myself.”
What do you think? More importantly have you faced a similar situation and used this leadership approach before? If you answered yes then you know that aiming your communication at someone does not improve effectiveness and destroys trust between the manager and the employee. From my observation the employee wanted to do the task correctly and even asked for help. The manager just wanted the task completed and indicated she trusted the employee to do it correctly. While the manager granted the employee responsibility for the task the authority for completing the task remained with the manager. Two thoughts come to mind:
- The employee’s preferred style for receiving communication was details so she could complete the task accurately the first time. The manager’s preferred communication style was ready, fire, aim…she was communicating at the employee.
- When delegating to someone recognize not only how to communicate the task but also take into account the employee’s ability and willingness for completing the task.
In this case the manager could have slowed her pace and taken the time to show the employee where to correctly place one of the marketing displays. Next she could have ensured the employee understood the detailed instructions and was comfortable with completing the remainder of the task. Next time you are faced with this situation communicate in a leadership style that connects you with the employee vs. aiming yourself and destroying trust and confidence in the process.
Let me know what steps you will take to improve communication between yourself and those you are responsible for serving…your followers.