Every organization asks for something different from its leaders and it can sometimes feel difficult to fulfill a leadership role effectively because of this. Yet, while the execution of a leadership role can vary from business-to-business there are many common areas of leadership that apply across the board to all leaders. It’s in these common areas that you can find some of the mistakes that leaders make and when you find them – you can address them. Here are 5 common issues that leaders face at work and 5 ways to become a better leader by tackling them:
Stop Needing to Be Liked
Sure, we understand that you don’t want to be hated and despised by the people around you but the truth is that you’re not a leader in order to win a popularity contest either. New leaders often forget this and spend too much time currying favor with those they’re trying to lead and this prevents them from making the right decisions.
Not every business decision can be universally popular. That means there are times when, as a leader, you’re going to be called on to make tough decisions and to put people’s noses out of join by doing so. Your staff won’t have all the information on hand that you do when you make these decisions. So, instead of trying to please them with every decision – explain the decision making process when you have to make an unpopular move.
People may not like you as much when you take this approach but they will respect you more for it. By ensuring that your decisions are understood and enabling your people to discuss those decisions and understand the reasons behind them; you will be a more effective leader.
Don’t Get Stuck in Your Ways
There’s a strong temptation when everything is going well for leaders to sit back and ride the wave. The trouble is that if you get over-comfortable; things will quickly grow stale within the work environment.
Part of the leader’s role in life is to create challenges that their team can rise to meet; if you’re too comfortable and not introducing change (which doesn’t need to be dramatic) that sense of challenge quickly disappears. People become set in their ways and when change is necessary; they’re likely to be highly resistant to that change.
Leaders should constantly be looking for ways to improve upon the status quo. If you’re stuck for ideas; you can always solicit them from your team. This gives you a chance to demonstrate that you care about their opinions while you seek to create positive transformations that benefit everybody within the work environment.
Learn to Switch Off
Smartphones and e-mail are a technological blessing which allow leaders to be in contact with their teams whenever they need to be to provide advice and guidance. They’re also a modern day curse when they leader decides to become overly-reliant on these tools.
You cannot be connected to your staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without driving them insane. Worse, from the staff members’ perspective; you’ll be disempowering them. Sure, they may need your input on certain things but they sure as heck don’t need your input on everything. Leadership means giving people purpose and direction and then trusting on them to deliver; it doesn’t mean becoming a micromanager who cyber-stalks their every move.
Good leaders know when to switch off and give their people time to grow and they learn when connectedness can add real value and not just serve as reassurance for themselves.
Learn to Trust Your Team
There are two failures of trust that are really common in new leaders. The first is micro-management; you micro-manage when you fail to trust people to do the jobs that they were hired to do and instead keep looking over their shoulder in case they should fail in some respect.
The second is taking on too much work yourself rather than delegating it effectively; this leaves you drowning in work and unable to focus on the aspects of your work which are truly critical.
Leaders need to be able to trust people to do their jobs properly. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a perfect team which always gets everything right. Leaders also know when they have to step up to the plate and intervene because the train’s going off the rails. The key to this is getting the balance right.
It’s better to give people the room to succeed and then take action if things start to go wrong than to assume that things are going to go wrong in the first place. It can take a bit of getting used to but there’s a reason you’re a leader – your bosses trust you. You need to show them same courtesy to your people.
Goals or Vision? Both
The business owners and C-suite will often task leaders with achieving objectives and goals. In fact, evidence suggests that in the majority of cases this is what they see as the most important role for a business leader; delivering results.
This level of expectation can leave leaders rushing around to achieve those goals without taking the time to communicate their vision for their team and their business function. This is a very short-sighted approach to the work environment and one that leaders all too often regret when they look back with hindsight.
You see in order for your people to go about achieving your goals; they need to understand your vision. This isn’t an “either or” situation; you need both.
The vision will inspire people to achieve your goals and as importantly it will enable them to “sense check” their work and ensure that they’re not just working towards your goals but they’re also working towards them in a way that’s consistent with expectations.
Effective leaders will know whether they’re too vision focused or too goal oriented and work to bring the two into balance to better serve the people they work with and the organization that they work for.