Leadership can be tricky… It can not only feel lonely, but high-pressured having to make decisions that require you to remove emotions and personal interest from the situation. Many people, including those close to you within your team or those you manage, may have preconceptions about how leaders should act, which adds additional pressure. We can read and read articles, research or case studies about how the ‘perfect leader’ should act, or watch inspiring portrayals of leaders on TV or in films. However, what should leaders not be doing?
Making and following assumptions about how you should be leading can be very dangerous and result in poor leadership. Jeff Boss wrote for Entrepreneur about the four assumptions leaders should not be making or trying to embed into their leadership style…
- You need to know it all. You will not know everything or be able to do everything yourself; there are not enough hours in the day to do this and also not enough to learn everything you would need to learn! Undertaking the ‘know it all’ leadership style will result in arrogance. Instead you should get to know what specific expertise your team members have and when you need these such skills, ask for their assistance. There are always leadership tasks that require you and only you, but do not be too proud to call upon your team in other circumstances; after all this will engage and inspire your employees.
- Make all of the decisions. If you are trying to make all of the decisions then you will end up feeling overwhelmed and very shut-off from the rest of your team. Plus, where are you giving your team opportunities to develop or give their input too? As Jeff rightly comments, “A leader’s job is to set the conditions that enable his or her employees to decide at their levels”. Work out which particular decisions can be passed onto relevant and able members of your team and this will allow you to focus your efforts on larger and more pressing strategic decisions. Also it is always good to get outside viewpoints!
- Qualitative improvements don’t count. In any successful organisation, statistics, data and financial metrics are always measured and analysed to look for improvements, but do not forget the qualitative side of things! It is the people who drive a company’s success. Quality in your team connotes trust, openness, motivation, team effort and an understanding and appreciation of goals.
- Problems are one-dimensional. Very little, if in fact anything is ‘stand-alone’ in business. One thing impacts and/or links to something else or someone else; everything is multi-directional and multi-functional. Viewing a problem as just ‘one detached issue’ will result in failure; consider this example given by Jeff , ‘you cannot apply direct pressure to sales without affecting other symptoms in marketing or HR.’ Every section of a business or team is linked.
You should never stop learning and developing your leadership ability. Always try to improve; listen to what your team are saying and appreciate their feedback. Cast aside assumptions which will lead to poor leadership and instead focus on experience and continued learning to help you become the best leader you can be!