Notice that the title of this article contains the word “Leaders”. In my previous post, I outlined the differences between a Leader and a Boss based on the subtle cues of your everyday relationship with people. Those cues are highly accurate in demonstrating whether you’re a Leader in the eyes of your people.
Once you do that simple test, and discover you’re actually a Leader, congrats! But don’t be too happy yet because many leaders have the tendency to think they are exhibiting great leadership skills when in actual fact, they are not. Those who are deemed a Boss, don’t hammer yourself over the result because coming up next, I will show you some of the mistakes that Leaders tend to make. Knowing them and avoiding those behaviors is a chance for you to turn the table around, to build a better image, be a better leader and invite business success to you (yes, that includes earning more)!
In fact, when you assume the leadership position, it’s possible that you are doing a lot of things wrong while trying to do things right. I’m going to reveal the 5 dangerous mistakes that silence every area that is important to you – career, status, relationship, success and money – without you knowing.
1. Not Understanding Yourself
I’ve talked to many people holding leadership positions. One common pattern I discovered among these leaders is that they recognized some part of them are probably introverted. This means that they find themselves in or experienced one or more of the following situations:
• Not communicating well enough.
• Not commanding respect and trust from their team members
• Seen as cold, lacking the human touch
• Having difficulties championing a cause/initiatives
• Lacking buy-ins from team members
• Being passed on for promotions
• Finds it difficult to express themselves
And the list goes on.
You’re one step ahead of other people when you Identify yourself as an Introverted Leader and that is a good thing! Because for introverts, you are in a position to better deliver outcomes (see Susan Cain). You also possessed hidden traits that make you excel as a leader better than extroverts, only if you know how to leverage on your introverted nature. Unfortunately, most of the introverted leaders feel stuck in life and at work. Behaving differently from the norm and other’s expectations, they think that there’s something wrong with them. This is not true and in one of my next few post, I will show you how you can turn your perceived weaknesses of an introvert into your strengths and make it work for you. At this moment, I just want you to know that if you do not understand yourself enough, becoming successful in leadership and subsequently in life, is going to be an uphill task.
2. Having Tunnel Vision for Results
Business results and personal achievements matter a lot to individuals, be it corporate executives, C-suite management or business owners. Sometimes, it matters so much that it’s all we only care about because results, in some way, define our success, status and capabilities. From this aspect, you tend to unknowingly create a tunnel vision for results and in the process, relationship with your people erodes. You will tend to neglect appreciation, communication, protection and humble-ness to the people, who contributed to your achievements.
3. Relying On A One Way Communication
When it comes to decision-making on matters that directly and indirectly affect your people, you hardly seek opinions because it’s not the most comfortable and easiest thing to do. Imagine the amount of time spent talking to each individuals and managing their opinions, it’s a chore! Now it could be that you made an effort to get inputs, but turns out you made decision based on your own assumptions and judgements. You just asked for opinions and yet act on your own accord, thinking that it’s the best for them.
Let me give you an example of a one-way communication. This is a true event from one of my friends. Her direct manager, has plans to rotate them around their roles and responsibilities so that the team is more all-rounded. The intention is good as people development is one big driver of employee engagement. The truth is, none of the team members welcome this change! They are happy doing what they are doing now. If you enforce people to change, it’s bound to attract unhappiness. See what happened here? The “leader” is only acting based on communication to herself, that her decision will do good for the team.
Remember the entrepreneur, Chen Lanshu, from my previous article? She’s a great example of a one-way communication too. To her, achieving the expectations that she has set up for her restaurant is of utmost importance. She wants her people to do it her way. As a result, one after the other, her best people left her.
So if you think you have the best intentions for your team, your employees, think again.
4. Thinks That They Are A Great Leader
First, I’d like to highlight the fact that natural leaders are few and far between. Chances of you being that natural leader is low, really low. I’m sorry to throw cold water at you. There’s a strong urge for me to shatter that misconception, which you may hold, and bring you back to reality.
One reason why I like gatherings with my friends is because I get to collect all the juicy information and present them to you. So here I have one great example where the “leader” thinks that she is exemplifying true leadership. Let’s call her Jane. In a team meeting, each team member is supposed to present a short introduction about themselves, anything under the sun. It was Jane’s turn. She flashed that her greatest achievement is People Development. I was told, when my friend and her colleagues saw that piece of information, their jaws literally dropped! Why?
Because in the eyes of Jane’s team, Jane is someone who only gives orders (one-way communication), puts people down in meetings, and is highly insensitive to the morale of the team. The people development skill which she is proud of refers to getting them to do things out of their domain expertise. If this is an initiative that has been checked with and welcomed by the team, that’s called people development. Otherwise, it’s just a one-way communication.
At this point of time, you could still be thinking “That definitely don’t sound like my style. I lead differently.” In fact, leaders are often most oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of their people. Due to their sensitive position, their employees or team members are inclined to hide the truth from them.
You could feel like you’ve done everything to be a good leader. But are you?
5. No System In Place For Leadership Development
The worse mistake that leaders make, in my opinion, is not having a system in place for their leadership growth. If you have a system in place, mistakes 1 – 4 (listed above) can be minimized and at best, avoided. What kind of system am I talking about? I’m referring to a feedback mechanism.
Most leaders understand the importance of leadership development. So they read up books on leadership, attend seminars and workshops and subscribe to related topics online – all of these in an attempt to be a better leader. Despite the things they have done, they may not be seeing positive results from their effort. People still leave the team. When you say A, they do B. Your words are not taken seriously. They don’t give you the respect you deserve and etc.
Why is it so even when you did your best to apply all of what you’ve learnt on leadership and be a better leader? That is because you have no feedback mechanism in place. You work on areas of improvement that you identify would make you a better leader and expect your people to observe that change/improvements? No way.
There should be a feedback system that allows you to convey your improvements to your people and let them know so that you can solicit feedback from them on how well you’ve done in a particular area and what suggestions do they have about being better.
Is all of these really necessary? My answer to you is an astounding Yes! Think about yourself as an athlete. In order to improve and reach your maximum potential, are feedback from your peers and coach crucial and useful information to you? In this world, everything has a system. Nature has a system. Even your body is a system on its own! Hence, to be the leader that you want to be, you cannot do without a feedback system.
I know I’ve talked a lot about mistakes here and you wonder where are the Hows of being that well-respected leader. You probably can’t wait to get your hands dirty. I’m working to put all of those information together and I strongly encourage you to sign up for my newsletter so that you don’t miss any of them!
Disclaimer: All the examples presented in this article are stories I’ve heard and are one-sided information. They are purely used for illustration purposes only and meant no offence to anyone.