Not having the impact you want to have as a leader? Don’t worry, you are part of a very large (and common) club of leaders who have great intentions, but struggle to get it right from the start. I know, every time I sit down to coach or train a new client, they share the same stories…“my team resists my ideas…upper management won’t take me seriously…my team isn’t ambitious…I have to do everything myself…I’m frustrated!!!!”
You are not alone. I’ve heard your stories and recognize that so many of you are on the cusp of greatness. BUT you are making the same mistakes! And you can stop and start being more effective immediately.
Here the Top 5 Mistakes Potentially Effective Leaders Make and the SOLUTIONS:
Too often leaders end up doing a lot of DIY and resist delegating! Reasons why leaders don’t delegate come down to just a couple of things:
- Leaders don’t trust their team to get the job done.
- Leaders think (or know) they can do it better and faster.
Either way, the result is that leaders have too much work and their followers don’t feel empowered or trusted. When followers feel that way they will resist most of your efforts to lead.
Effective leaders learn to trust their team.Period. This means creating opportunities for them to get the job done. Their way! Not the way you would do it. Leaders can set expectations and quality standards, but have to give their team space and opportunity to do it differently and perhaps come out with a different result, for better or for worse.
One of my favorite quotes says it best:
Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. —Author, Tom Peters
Effective leaders nurture and enhance their followers by cultivating an environment where they feel safe and comfortable to fail, learn and grow. It is essential to building trust. So stop doing it all yourself and let others give it a try, and support them (as needed) along the way.
#2: Too Much Talking
There is a reason for having one mouth and two ears. Listening is probably the most underutilized tool you have in your kit, yet it is one of your most critical and powerful tools. Most leaders feel pressure to solve problems, speak up, or stand out and do so by TALKING.
Effective leaders should spend more time listening, listening well, AND talking less.
Listening to your team will help you understand their individual needs, goals, and areas for growth. It also empowers them to contribute and learn from one another. It builds confidence and self-reliance, and your team will be less dependent on you.
Did you know that, on average, managers spend up to 25% of their time managing conflict? Listening is a quick and easy tool to use to manage and resolve conflict. When a member of your team comes to you to complain about another employee, they usually want one of two things:
- To vent
- To get a solution
If they want to vent, that only requires you to listen (and put a time limit on that). If they want a solution, then listen and help them find their own solution. They are are grown-ups! Just because you are in charge does not mean you have to have ALL of the answers.
I hear it all of the time, “I have so many ideas now that I’m in charge!” And I believe you, and I also believe that they are probably good, if not, great ideas. But then I typically hear, “But no one cares! How do I get my ideas heard?”
If that is you, the answer is simple. No one cares about your vision. People care about THEIR vision. Effective leaders have to bridge the gap between their vision and their team’s vision by creating a shared vision.
It is not enough for you to have a vision, your team has to be equally passionate about realizing it. If you can work with your team to create a shared vision then you will see an increase in the level of engagement and commitment your team has for the vision.
Another favorite quote of mine is by Lao Tzu:
Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.
Most people want to make a difference and have an impact so they need to see how their contributions fit into the goals and future of the organization, its mission, and vision. Click here for a quick video and downloads to help you create a shared vision with your team.
#4: Failure to Launch
What does that mean? Failure to Launch describes the challenge of facing adulthood. And in this case, it’s the challenge of fully embracing and rising up to the challenge of leadership. You can be your own greatest enemy by holding back. I hear excuses like, “I’m new… I’m young… I’ve never done this before!”
Let that go! You’re the one who just got put into the position of leadership so accept and appreciate the responsibility you’ve been given and do the job. Know you will make some mistakes. And trust that you will recover from them.
Leadership comes with a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity, and effective leaders learn to live in that space. You won’t always know what you are doing, you will wing it, and fake it when you have to, but in the end, you will learn and grow. But if you do nothing, you won’t.
And if you want support facing the challenges of leadership, you have some choices:
- Seek out the help and support of a mentor.
- Get the guidance of an Executive Coach.
- Take a training to develop your skill set.
Patience is a virtue!
Not only is a virtue, but it is a vital leadership and intercultural competency. By nature, I’m a pretty impatient person and I had to learn to be more patient to be a better leader.
Everyone is different. Some people talk more, some talk less. Some people learn quickly, and others need more time. Some of your team members may want more feedback, others less. Whatever it is, there are a variety of qualities and characteristics that make the people you lead different from you. It isn’t your job as a leader to make them more like you, it’s your job to make them the best version of themselves which requires PATIENCE.
When you are more patient with others, they will feel more supported, and in time, you will feel less frustrated.
It is time for you to tap into your potential, and be more effective. It is not too late. None of these mistakes are irrevocable. With a little bit of time and practice you can have the impact you want to have as a leader. Just replace old behaviors with new behaviors and in time they will become more natural.
So rather than…
- Doing it yourself, trust others to get it done.
- Talking, take time to listen.
- Pushing your vision, create a shared vision.
- Holding pack, step up.
- Being impatient, take step back, breath, and practice patience.
Unleash your potential and be a more effective leader today.