One of the hardest losses for a leader is when they lose favor with the people they are trying to lead. It’s very hard to regain trust once it’s lost.
Sadly, the longer I serve as a leader, the easier it seems to be to lose a follower’s trust. People are more skeptical — it seems to me — of leadership these days than in days past.
I think it’s important to know what causes us to lose favor with the people we are attempting to lead. Of course, there are many things, but let share some of the more common ones I’ve observed.
Here are 9 ways to lose favor as a leader:
Sloppy work – Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, or even bored, we tend to rush through our work. We neglect all the principles of good leadership we know. We make more mistakes than usual. Other’s view it as losing interest in our work. They become suspicious.
Advice: Slow down. Delegate. Invite correction.
Dictate by email – Exclusively. Email is often misunderstood. It causes confusion and retaliation by email. It promotes fear. It is impersonal leadership. And, when a leader refuses to get their hand dirty by having real conversations — and doing real work — they lose favor with those on the front lines.
Advice: Sometimes — especially when the matter is important, or any correction is involved — you just need to pick up the phone or arrange a meeting.
Absentee leader – The busier we get the more we sometimes have to isolate ourselves to get anything done. This is especially true of leaders with an “open door” style of leadership. If we aren’t careful, rather than being productive, we appear absent. By the way, this could be a leader who doesn’t listen well also. A constantly distracted leader is equally damaging. It communicates disinterest. And, it’s promotes weak and unhealthy commitments among the team.
Advice: Make your schedule known. Communicate frequently.
Appeasing people – Let’s face it. Everyone wants people to like them. If we aren’t careful we will find ourselves saying what people want to hear, even if it’s the wrong thing. It causes us to lose favor with those trying to do the right thing.
Advice: Be transparent and honest. Say everything in love, but don’t communicate what you don’t mean. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Always having an answer
Without a doubt, the toughest decisions I have ever made were in combat as a Navy SEAL. And those who have served know that the impact of those decisions can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, making tough decisions amidst chaos takes practice. In the past, I had a tendency to avoid conflict, put off making difficult decisions and even sugarcoat reality. Those behaviors are of little use when holding a position of leadership.
My experiences in the military, prior to becoming an entrepreneur, have helped me formulate a better perspective on decision-making. But it is never easy. My “wisdom” as a leader has primarily come from getting feedback from a great team, persistence, and learning from failure. And my training is never complete.
Now, I make a rigorous effort to face the tough decisions head on, before they become even larger obstacles. Here are some tips for being a more decisive leader. These go for leaders at all levels, not just at the top.
In the absence of orders, take charge. A great line from the Navy SEAL Creed referencing leadership and decision-making at all levels says, “In the absence of orders, I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.” When tackling the challenges of leadership within an organization, you won’t always have someone there to guide every decision. Use the information at hand to make the best possible decision and adjust accordingly.
Stop avoiding those difficult conversations. This was always a big obstacle for me. As entrepreneurs, we have enough anxiety and stress as is. Then as our companies grow, the obstacles become even bigger and our decisions have greater consequences. Whether it’s your business partner, a direct report, or even your manager, it doesn’t do any good to put off much needed conversations. When we do that, things fester and get even worse. Don’t put it off. It won’t fix things and it’s not fair to the other person.
Make that decision you should have made months ago.
Coaching executives and aspiring leaders across many roles, industries and geographies over many years, I’ve prepped for you a quick-hit list of 15 exercises to help build your leadership muscles. For each one, take a look in the mirror of how you handle it now, what’s working, and what you want to to enhance through practice. Then go for it!
1. Make sure everyone in your enterprise knows where you are all heading, has a simple road map to get there, and “gets” why your goal(s) and direction are so important to you. If your people are vague on any of these elements, they are less likely to be at their best.
2. Value and reward your people’s excellence executing and delivering results AND their excellence collaborating with colleagues and “having each others’ backs.” Expecting and rewarding both results and relationships makes a more sustainable organization.
3. Measure, monitor, and decrease continuously the amount of resistance (time, steps, and non-value-added activities needed) to implement a good idea. This “drag coefficient” exists in all organizations of two or more people, and lessening it is an ongoing way to maintain a strong flow of good leadership.
4. Delegating with context and clear expectations makes you and your team scalable. If you’re a founder, perfectionist or do-it-yourselfer, it’s key to work extra hard to guide others to do their best for you, rather than do things your way (or worse) yourself.
5. Give all reasonable feedback, candor, suggestions, and support to your people to help them succeed. With that, when someone continues to underperform, it’s important to help them move on. Hanging on for too long is a common and avoidable leadership error.
Read the rest here: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6502162
It’s frequently said that those who lead, read. Research has shown that reading keeps leaders smart, creative and social. For those who want to lead, reading is not a nice to have or a luxury, reading is a habit successful leaders consider critical to their success.
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren(Buffett) reads – at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out”.” – Charles T. Munger, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
The conviction as to the importance of reading for leaders is not unique to billionaire Charles Munger. Tom Petersmade the following comment in an interview with McKinsey Quarterly:
“I was at a dinner party recently with a guy who’s probably one of the top ten finance people in the world. At one point he said, “Do you know what the biggest problem is with big-company CEOs? They don’t read enough.” – Tom Peters, Tom Peters on leading the 21st-century organization
As a leader if you’re not reading daily don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling behind your peers!
6 Steps to a Daily Reading Habit
Reading is a habit and like any other habit it needs to be purposefully developed.
1. Set an Annual Reading Goal
As with most habits, change begins with goal. You set goals for your exercise routine, you set goals for how much weight you want to lose, reading is no different.
The first step is to set a goal for the number of books you would like to read this year. You could go big and decide to read 52 books this year – one book a week. Or you could decide to take it more slowly and read two books a month – one book every two weeks. For example Mark Zuckerberg has set himself a reading goal.
“My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week – with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.” – Mark Zuckerberg
If you want to follow along with Mark’s challenge you can do so on the Facebook page A Year of Books.
So take some time to set a goal for the number of books you will read this year.
2. Maintain a Reading List
Read the rest here: http://www.georgeambler.com/leaders-need-daily-reading-habit/
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
About 2 years ago, my washing machine stopped working. I got online and learned how to fix it. The part I had to replace cost $35. I had never done that before.
Today, I’m replacing my dryer’s heating coil. I’ve never done this before. I used online resources. The part will cost $30-50.
In 1985, I conducted 500+ musicians at the Long Beach Arena (California). I have no formal music training. I had great musical mentors and applied what I learned from them.
In 1998, I was unemployed. By 2003, I became a Vice President at my credit union. I learned. I questioned. I applied. I experimented. I changed.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. You are capable of far more than you can image.
My CEO and I were talking the other day about helping our teams move forward. As a Lead Team in our organization, we spend time talking about the significant “measures that matter” and work hard to keep our pulse on the heartbeat of the member (customer) experience. If our talk stays in our conference room, not much will happen. I know you’ve experienced this at your shop.
For real change and forward movement to happen, the middle-management team must be fully engaged. It is at that level where vision/purpose/mission meets behaviors/attitudes/performance.
I’m not discounting the fact that each executive must communicate clearly to his/her management team the direction they need to head. That is imperative.
But what I’m suggesting here is that the middle managers are key in helping their teams “connect the dots” to the company’s mission and to the behaviors that will move the company to success. And from my perspective, the best way to do this is by observing and capturing the team doing things right and then reinforcing those great behaviors to build momentum and successful habits.
If, for example, you manage a call center and you want your agents to maintain a daily 90%+ availability metric. As the manager, you need to:
- Communicate this goal to your team. Not just the numbers. But WHY is this metric so important – i.e. higher availability rates will allow us to serve more members more quickly and will reduce abandoned calls. This is a service goal.
- Keep a “scoreboard” so all on the team know where their personal performance is helping to achieve this goal
- Praise those that are demonstrating consistent leadership in meeting or exceeding the goal
Of course, you may need to “counsel” those that are missing the mark, but the point here is to focus on the behaviors and performances that will move your team to success. Observations must happen on a daily basis. In-the-moment coaching is required to do some simple course corrections with team members who are falling behind.
Do you work in the “corner office” or away from your team? Get out of your office. Periodically sit with your team. I’ve done this often. It’s a great learning experience. I’ve actually asked my team member to “work out loud” – tell me what they’re doing while they are doing it. I then may ask them, “why is this so important?” I want to build purpose behind even seemingly mundane activities. If your team member stumbles on that question, ask them “what would happen if you or someone else did NOT do this?” That will get a response!
Keep this in mind:
- Get out of your office and spend time observing/listening to your team. Go on sales calls with them.
- Coach in the moment.
- When you praise, connect that great behavior back to the mission/vision so your team member understands what they did so well – i.e. “What you did there? You demonstrated CREDIBILITY to our member. They left feeling that they can trust that we will follow through with our promises. And that’s one of our company’s values. Great job!”
- When you must confront/counsel, also connect the dots – “I just received a call from someone in Financial Reporting. You were to have that report completed and sent to them yesterday. Failing to follow through shows you’re not RELIABLE. This is one of our values. What can you do now to restore your reputation?
Leaders bring purpose and meaning to work. Don’t under estimate your influence. Get involved and help them connect the dots.