It’s easy to dwell on the the corner office or flexible schedule, but the perks business leaders enjoy are accompanied with enormous responsibility. Anyone can hide away from his or her employees or berate workers constantly, but it takes commitment to crawl into the trenches with your employees and provide genuine leadership. You won’t find any simple recipe to providing quality leadership, but you can avoid common pitfalls that will limit your business’s potential.
Lack of Feedback
Employers consistently challenge their workers to increase productivity with rousing “buckle down and try harder” speeches, but diligent employees will become frustrated with constant claims questioning their work ethic. There’s a time and a place for a kick in the pants, but successful leaders generate productivity by helping their employees work smarter, not harder.
Personal and candid feedback empowers employees to improve in areas of weakness and build on strengths. Employees tend to dismiss group criticism as someone else’s problem, but frank feedback keeps employees accountable and demonstrates a commitment to their success. The next time you start writing a speech to fire up the troops, consider adjusting your strategy and write down a recent success and shortcoming for every employee. Then, look each one in the eye and discuss how he or she can succeed — that’s leadership.
Refusal to Delegate
Whether you started your own business or earned your way to the top within a company, chances are direct business action got you to the top. A proposal presentation, design concept or customer interaction may have led you to the top, but the ability to delegate responsibly will cement your status as an effective leader. The resource management, conflict resolution and problem solving that accompanies leadership means you can’t be as involved in the direct function of the company, so stop trying.
Delegating important tasks can feel like handing your baby to a stranger, but in order for your company to grow, new employees must be challenged. Leadership guru Jim Collins says “An organization cannot be truly great unless it can be great without you.”
During a time of transition or a slow quarter, it’s tempting to uproot the current processes in favor of trendy alternatives. Tinkering business leaders always want to find an edge, but too much process turbulence compromises your business’s vision. If your employees seem to be making inconsiderate business decisions, perhaps they don’t have a clear definition of success. Do you?
Your business’s purpose and goals should be easily recognizable to potential customers and, more importantly, your employees. A direct mission statement provides employees with a picture of success, making it easier to define goals. Regularly express the company’s vision from different angles, whether it’s at the start of the meeting or at the bottom of an email thread.
Day-to-day functions are the product of a greater vision. Keep everybody informed as your processes transform and you’ll reach your business’s goals.