Ditch the title; become the leader your team needs.
As a leader, you don’t need to wave your title around like a flag. Everyone gets it: you’re the boss. But here’s the twist – every day, you’ve got to show your team that you’re not just a title. You’re the person who steps up when things go sideways, stays cool under pressure, and puts the team and the mission first. It’s not about proving you’re in charge; it’s about proving you’re the leader they need.
Now, this is a bit of a balancing act. You’ve got to be honest with yourself, constantly checking if you’re really walking the talk. See things from your team’s shoes, your peers’, and even your boss’s. Ask yourself: ‘Do they trust my leadership?’ If there’s doubt, it’s time to step up your game. Own up to any slip-ups and work on being the leader everyone can rely on.
If a leader doesn’t stick to these key principles I’m sharing, is like ignoring the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign at a busy intersection. You’re asking for trouble.
Here’s what can go wrong, in plain terms:
Trust Goes Out the Window: Imagine a leader who doesn’t own up to their mistakes. It’s like a web designer who won’t admit their site is hard to navigate. Team members start doubting everything, and once trust checks out, it’s a long road to win it back.
Team Spirit Takes a Dive: A leader who can’t keep cool or show they care is frustrating and demotivating. People lose their drive, and the whole team vibe suffers. In order for them to care you have to show you care for them.
Decision-Making Gets Messy: Not prioritizing leads to bad choices And these aren’t just oopsies – they can have serious ripple effects. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. If you don’t set clear expectations and timelines then the job will expand to the time allotted which is often NOT your timeline but the employee’s timeline. You can’t get mad at people for not telling them what you wanted. They’re not mind readers and neither are you!
Hello, Revolving Door: When team members feel undervalued, they’ll leave, High turnover is disruptive and costly, and the new employees you hire will become just like the old employees who left.
Growth Hits a Wall: What happens when a leader doesn’t focus on the future? Everything stagnates – the team, their skills, the whole shebang.
Bad Rep Spreads: Leadership flubs don’t just stay internal. they get around and can turn off potential clients, partners, and new talent.
Teamwork Gets Tricky: Poor communication and support from a leader can sour team dynamics. It leads to conflicts and stifles creativity and collaboration.
Stress and Burnout Skyrocket: A leader who can’t manage stress or workload is crashing. Which leads to burnout, and that isn’t good for everyone’s health and the team’s output.
In short, not following these leadership principles leads to a whole bunch of problems, it can drive people away and make everything a lot harder than it needs to be.
What are your employees thinking?
What do the employees think if a boss avoids a solid leadership approach? Here’s the scoop:
“They’re Out of Touch”: Employees might see the boss like a website stuck in the 90s – outdated and not keeping up with the times. Employees might feel their boss is not in tune with modern, effective leadership practices.
“They Don’t Really Care About Us”. Employees feel the boss isn’t approachable or concerned about their well-being. It’s like shouting into the void and hoping someone hears.
“They’re Not Really Leading”: Employees might view the boss as all show and no go. They see a lack of authentic leadership, similar to how a user feels navigating a website that looks good but has no useful content.
“They’re Not Trustworthy”: A boss who doesn’t own up to mistakes or take responsibility can seem untrustworthy. Employees start to question their decisions and motives.
“They’re Making Our Lives Harder”: Employees feel the boss’s lack of clear direction and support makes their job more difficult.
“They Don’t Value Our Input”: Employees might feel their opinions and ideas are not valued or heard. It’s like filling out a feedback form and never getting a response.
“They’re Not Preparing Us for the Future”: Employees might see the boss as a static sign. They feel stuck, with no growth or development.
“They’re Just Not Good at This”: In the end, employees might simply think the boss isn’t cut out for leadership. It’s a harsh judgment, but it’s what happens when there’s a consistent failure to meet basic expectations.
Bad bosses are like a GPS that only works half the time – they send you on a wild journey, and you end up lost and confused more often than not!
So, in a nutshell, employees are likely to view a boss who avoids good leadership practices with a mix of frustration, disappointment, and distrust. It’s all about meeting the needs and expectations of your employees.
Here’s a story
Once upon a time, in the bustling world of restoration and repair, there was a manager named Holly. She ran a business that served restaurants and retail stores, fixing up everything from worn-out booths to changing locks, repairing plumbing issues, to fixing broken windows. But Holly had a problem, and it wasn’t just the peeling paint or the rusty hinges she dealt with daily. It was her team.
Picture this: a group of employees who treated work like a snooze button – they just showed up to punch the clock and did the bare minimum. They seemed to never remember things and how to do them. Always asking Holly how to do their jobs, they took no initiative. They strolled into work late, and even a $100 carrot for punctuality couldn’t get them to show up on time. Holly even had to dangle money and prizes to lure them to the company Christmas party. And when it came to solving customer problems? Let’s say they weren’t exactly jumping to help. Driving a constant stream of customer complaints to Holly.
Holly was at her wit’s end but had no idea how to fix this. That’s when she decided to seek help. She listened to a podcast that a friend had suggested to her and a light came on. Maybe it’s me and not them! Oh God am I the one that’s in the wrong?
You see Holly was just like most accidental managers. She was functionally very talented as an employee and when the company needed a manager they promoted their best employee, in this case, Holly, the manager of the team. And like every other accidental manager Holly was thrown into managing people with no idea how to do so. The trial-and-error method of management training had ensued and Holly the company and their customers were paying the price.
She simply did not know what she did not know. She was making it up as she went along with no other access to resources that would suggest a better way, Oh so common and sad.
Holly gained motivation to seek training from what she heard on the podcast and the thing that made Holly so good as an employee came into play again. She dove into training and coaching, determined to uncover her leadership blind spots. It was like she was learning the leadership code for the first time – challenging but enlightening.
Something remarkable happened as Holly gained new knowledge, skills, and tools. It was like refreshing a webpage and watching it transform into something amazing. Within weeks, her employees started to change. They became more engaged, and actually stopped complaining as much, which meant they cared! and even smiled more. Work became a place of fun, and they began putting in more effort. They began to show genuine care for what they did.
For Holly, this was a tough pill to swallow. She never realized that the problems her team was giving her were, in fact, reflections of her own leadership. It was a classic case of No Matter What Business You’re in, You’re in the People Business. Now Holly was learning the people business!
Holly had been making it hard for her team without even realizing it. Her lack of effective leadership was the root cause. It was not her people, it was her!
And as she improved, so did her team. The same employees who once seemed lazy and uncaring were now engaged and productive. It was a revelation for Holly. She learned that to change her team’s behavior, she first had to change her own. It was like debugging a complex website – the problem often lies in the underlying code, not the surface.
In the end, Holly’s business didn’t just restore and repair restaurants and retail stores; it also restored and repaired its own internal workings. Holly’s journey taught her that leadership is the cure for poor employee performance and that a good boss needs to be user-friendly, intuitive, and constantly evolving. Good leadership can turn a group of disengaged employees into a cohesive, motivated team.
So, Why do some managers avoid adopting these leadership approaches? Here’s the rundown:
Comfort Zone: It’s what they know, some managers stick to their old ways. Change is hard. It feels risky and unfamiliar.
Fear of Vulnerability: Admitting mistakes and showing you care. It feels exposed. Some managers worry it’ll make them look weak.
Misunderstanding of Leadership: Some managers think leadership is about authority and control, the more the better. They don’t realize that, effective leadership is often more about what you don’t do – like not overcrowding the team with unnecessary elements.
Short-Term Focus: Some managers focus on immediate results – hitting targets, asserting authority – and miss the big picture, like building a strong, cohesive team.
Lack of Awareness or Training: This is the hole in every underperforming manager’s game. Most managers aren’t aware of these leadership principles or haven’t been trained in them. They don’t know there’s a better way.
Overconfidence: Think of the ‘I know best’ attitude. Some managers think they’ve got it all figured out. They don’t see the need for change because they’re confident their way is the best way, even when it’s not. This may even be fueled by their boss who is in the same circumstance of knowledge The weak encouraging the weak.
Avoiding Tough Conversations: This is a hard one and one that almost every manager who does not have the knowledge skills and tools for having honest, sometimes tough conversations with team members. Some managers avoid this, preferring to keep things vague and non-confrontational. Sometimes even in the guise of they want to be liked instead of respected. Huge misstep.
Resistance to Feedback: Some managers don’t want to hear criticism or suggestions, thinking it undermines their authority. They close their ears “nah nah nah nah nah I’m not listening”
In essence, avoiding these leadership approaches is often about sticking to what’s comfortable, fearing change, misunderstanding what effective leadership really looks like, or simply not being aware there’s a better way to lead.
So let me help you with the first step. If this message is ringing a bell with you. If you can relate to Holly’s story and situation do this. This week, pick one thing where you’ve been trying too hard to show you’re the boss. Drop that. STOP IT!
Instead, focus on where you can really strengthen your leadership. Maybe it’s building trust with your team, or showing your peers you’ve got their back, or proving to your boss you’re a problem-solver. Take charge, fix what needs fixing, and keep tweaking until you hit that sweet spot of leadership.”
Remember, it’s not about flexing your authority muscles every chance you get. It’s about being the kind of leader who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk.
Here’s how you can do that:
Keep Improving. Leadership isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. Always look for ways to be better. Get feedback, read up, attend workshops – whatever it takes. The best leaders are always learning. Look for resources that you can learn from. Get training and coaching. Take online courses. Watch YouTube Videos and listen to Podcasts. But don’t overwhelm yourself with new leadership skills to begin deploying.
Pick that one thing you’re going to work on. Maybe it’s being more approachable, improving communication, or getting better at delegating. Whatever it is, commit to it. Practice it and practice it more until it becomes more natural and effective. Then pick something else. Be patient with yourself and your team. It takes whatever time it takes and don’t give up. Try it out, get feedback, and adjust as needed. Remember, it’s all about finding that balance where you’re not just the boss in name, but the leader in action. No Matter What Business You’re In, You’re in the People Business!”
Do you have some guilt and wonder ok,” How Do I FIX this?”
Steps to Correct a Too Hands-Off Approach:
Self-Assessment: Begin with introspection to understand your leadership style and its impact on the team. Reflect on feedback from team members and superiors. Lead by Example and demonstrate the behavior and work ethic you expect from your team. Be transparent and consistent in your actions to build trust within the team.
Seek Feedback: Actively ask for feedback from your team and peers about your management style and areas for improvement. Rest assured, if you are not well connected with your team, and they lack trust that they can be honest with you, all the asking in the world won’t get you the answers you need. You’re the boss! They will not tell you their opinion, no matter what. So, don’t waste your time asking them for direct developmental feedback.
Instead, adopt a 360 Feedback process where you and other managers are getting regular anonymous feedback from peers and direct reports. Want to find out more about our online 360 feedback program? It is inexpensive and powerful!
Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations regarding goals, project outcomes, and team roles to avoid confusion. Always close every meeting, whether with a group or an individual, with the question, “OK, what did we decide to do here?” They will often repeat and have correct 50% of what you discussed and instructed. If you don’t ask that simple question, you will get the wrong kind of outcomes that you seek.
Increase Engagement: Make a conscious effort to be more involved in team activities, meetings, and decision-making processes. Get off your butt and out of the office and manage by walking around.
As you are inspecting what you expect and becoming much more visible, offer guidance and support. Provide more hands-on guidance and support, especially in project initiation phases and critical decision points.
Empower your team to make decisions and take ownership but be available to offer support and guidance when needed.
CATCH Them Doing It Right! Then, tell them that you caught them and you appreciate it. Recognize and Reward your team. Acknowledge and reward the hard work and achievements of your team members.
Balance Autonomy and Oversight: Find the right balance between giving your team autonomy and maintaining adequate oversight. As you progress with more involvement, they will earn your trust. Create a safe space for team members to share innovative ideas and take calculated risks.
Improve Communication: Enhance communication channels with your team. Regularly update them about organizational changes, project statuses, and relevant information. Make them feel a part of something bigger. They must know the company’s mission and be aligned regularly with it.
Implement Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular one-on-one and team meetings to stay informed about progress and address any issues promptly. Ask a lot of open-ended questions, seeking their opinions on a wide variety of work-related topics. This will help you and them create improved Critical Thinking Skills.
Practice active listening to understand team members’ perspectives, concerns, and suggestions.
Promote Professional Development: Encourage and facilitate opportunities for team members to grow professionally. Train, Train and Train! Have regularly scheduled training sessions on work-related and industry-related topics. Schedule it and stick to the schedule. Include monthly Lunch and Learns with Your Team. It’s the cost of a pizza.
Provide regular, constructive feedback to help team members improve and grow.
Adapt Your Style to Team Needs: Recognize that different team members and situations may require different levels of involvement and adapt accordingly. There is no one-size-fits-all all leadership style. In order to adapt and adopt, you must know your team members’ individual needs. Do you have a DISC assessment on each of them?
By implementing these steps and best practices, leaders can transition from a too-hands-off approach to a more effective and balanced leadership style, fostering a productive, engaged, and motivated team.