If You’re A Leader, Don’t Do This!

Most of my blogs share what you should do to be a great leader, how to be a better leader for your team, how to motivate your team.  But there are things that you as a leader – whether of a team or an organisation, or even a family – should also be aware.  There are things that you should NOT be doing as someone that other people look up to. As a busy executive, it’s easy to make these mistakes and not even be aware of the impact on the performance and development of the people that we manage.

So here are the top 3 things NOT to do.

Do not insult or blame your people. Ever. 

With all the pressures and stress that you carry on a daily basis, you may be unconsciously insulting your people by blaming them for the business’ shortcomings or poor performance. But remember – your people’s performance reflects yours. If your team isn’t doing their job well, you are to blame and not them.

As a leader, you should be working with your team, finding out about their challenges and giving them constructive feedback, help or training, that would help them improve what they are doing. If a mistake has been made due to negligence, it’s okay to point it out and give a warning that such mistakes will not be tolerated going forward especially if it has had a serious effect on the business. However, always deal with the behaviour as unacceptable, and not the person.  The thing that was done might have been incorrect, or unacceptable, but never insult the person.  Calling someone “sloppy” or “stupid” should never happen.

Instead, find out what went wrong.  It might be that there was a lack of understanding about what outcome was required or what method should be used (your fault).  It might be that they have never been trained to do that (your fault).  It might be that they were trying to solve a problem that was not theirs to solve (your fault for not setting the boundaries clearly enough). It might be a personal issue impinging on their performance at work (this one is not your fault but you need to be aware of it so you can support the individual, or potentially redistribute workload).

And remember – when you point the finger at others – at least 3 fingers are pointing back at you (If you don’t know what I mean – point now and see where your index, fourth and little finger are pointing).

Do not fail to set clear goals. 

If you, as a leader, are not aware of what you want and need to achieve, how do you expect your team to meet their goals too? Goal setting is one of the important tasks of a leader because it is your basis for coming up with strategies to drive your team’s performance Remember to assign S.M.A.R.T. goals to your team which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound.

Check back that people have a clear understanding of the goal.  Sometimes what seems obvious to us, has a different meaning for someone else.  And remember to get agreement and commitment from your team.  It is also a good idea to set in place some check in’s on larger goals.  Don’t wait until the day the task is due and then realise there is a problem.  This is especially important on new projects / new goals.

Do not lead to impress people or to make friends. 

You are a leader and it is not your job to make people like you. Most leaders feel that they are an effective leader when people like them—which is not the case. You need to know when to be lenient and when to be a little firm.  Too much of either is not good.

Your decisions as a Leader must be made for the greater good.  The good of the organisation comes first, not your own personal gain, though if you do the first right the second is almost guaranteed to happen.  But never the other way around.  If you approach leadership as a way for you to benefit, to impress others and to make friends – you will be sorely disappointed.  If you lead for the good of your company, your people and your clients – well then you cannot fail to benefit, impress and make friends!

The leader’s job is not to be everyone’s friend, though that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly.  Your job is to lead, to inspire, to set the direction and adjust the course when things go off track.  It is not to be everyone’s mate.  Think Alan Sugar!

Do you need down to earth strategies and toolkits for developing confident effective leaders of high performing teams which will transform your business? Shoot us an email Julie@thinkbedoleadership.com or jan@thinkbedoleadership.com

You can also follow us on Twitter @julie_hutchison @jan_sargenthr.

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