Everyone knows that good leadership requires hard work and commitment. If it were that simple, however, there would be a lot more amazing leaders in the world—it takes something else for a leader to move from average to outstanding.
As one of New Zealand’s largest business networks, we here at Bartercard have seen our share of leadership styles over the years. We’ve seen what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t.
One of the keys to becoming a great leader is the ability to learn from your mistakes—the only true failure is the failure to learn from your failures! There is a lot to be said for being humble enough to admit you made a mistake, picking yourself up, and carrying on. It takes even more courage to look back over your shoulder at what tripped you up in the first place, and take measures to avoid it in the future.
See if you recognise yourself in any of these examples, and if you do, don’t worry! You will learn where to start, to turn your leadership style from potential failure into something more positive. For our top seven common leadership issues, read on.
1. You expect to have all the answers
All leaders have limitations. Why then do so many expect to know everything about everything? It’s not humanly possible. A little humility goes a long way, but a little collaboration and teamwork go even further!
Instead of feeling like you need to have all the answers, become the type of leader that asks questions and genuinely cares about the answers. Every member of your team has a unique way of thinking, and each is valuable to your business. Ask your team for their input and ideas, and watch creativity and camaraderie soar.
2. You don’t know your team
A great leader will look past a person’s job title to their strengths and skills, their interests, and what makes them shine at work. Take the time to build trust and break down barriers so that team members feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with you. When you know where people fit best in your business, you can capitalise on their strengths and earn their respect in the process.
A good leader will also spot the cracks in their team before they become gaping chasms. Learn how to read the signals of what your team needs, and be ready to give it to them, whether it’s a day off, a one-on-one chat, a team social, or even just some praise for a good job. If you can keep the balance right, you’ll have a grateful and productive team in no time.
3. You take too long to make decisions
The inability to make decisions when necessary is a sure-fire way to erode trust. Your team looks to you to know how to act, and any time spent wondering what to do is time lost.
Learn to trust yourself, your knowledge and experience, and your business instincts.
4. You are unclear on your own vision
Vague leaders produce vague results. How can your team get excited about working with you every day if your vision is unclear? Having a leader with a clear vision is the glue that brings a team together.
Both your team and your customers can feel the difference between a ‘she’ll be right’ kind of attitude, and a leader who is passionate, has conviction, and believes in their vision.
Clearly define your mission, your purpose, your goals—whatever it takes to communicate what your business stands for and where it’s going—and you’ll find that people will be attracted to that certainty.
5. You lack personal integrity
Personal integrity is a key factor in earning the respect of your team, not to mention a mighty big part of the overall success of your business. You wouldn’t want to work with someone who was unethical or immoral, so why expect your team to be any different?
If you lose the respect of your team, it will be difficult to gain it back and almost impossible to lead. After all, to be a leader, you need followers!
Keep all aspects of your business above board, and embody the same values you would expect from every member of your team.
6. You are complacent
Even the most comprehensive business growth strategies will fail without sustained leadership. Complacency can sneak up on you and, before you know it, cause you to lose so much ground you struggle to catch up.
The business world is constantly changing. While it’s important to be able to unwind once in a while, you can’t afford to sit back and relax whenever things are going well. Keep your head in the game if you want to keep ahead of your competition.
If you continue to explore and evolve, your team will follow you and do the same. If they know you want to find better ways to do things, to improve services, and to create new products, they will be encouraged to help you achieve that. Don’t rest on your laurels—use periods of success to innovate.
7. You hire the wrong people
It pays to take the time needed to find the right person for the job, who is also the perfect fit for your team. Lazy leaders take shortcuts and hire people who are good enough, instead of putting more energy into finding staff who are outstanding. They exist, but you won’t find them by cutting corners. You’ll be rewarded in the future if you put in the effort now.
Become the leader you want to be
Leaders can make or break a business. Lead by example and be the leader you want to see develop from within your team. Learn from the business leaders you admire, and never be too proud to ask for advice or mentorship.
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