Let’s face it — leadership is not easy and not for everyone. It may be what many people aspire to, but, often, it is not a good fit.
So, how can you tell if you’re a good leader or not? Well, your performance is reflected in your team. The business world has changed a great deal over the years, but one thing hasn’t: employees still want to have confidence in their leaders’ capabilities and to know that leaders will respond to their needs. That’s not fundamental in much of the corporate world today, and it should be.
Here are seven reasons that affect your assessment, and why your team may dislike you:
1. You tell instead of sell. I have written about marketing from the inside out to win employees, the same way you do to win customers. A company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do). So, where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactics of “do this and do that” and “you’re lucky to have a job” may be two sources of motivation. However, intimidation is not the answer to leading and winning in the workplace — and the marketplace — inclusion is.
As a leader, you have the potential to influence people every day, to effect change through exchange. So, take every opportunity to engage employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive too.
2. You don’t fight for your people. Rewards need to be linked to performance — that’s how you set the bar for behavior and create a culture of execution. But, how can you do that if you don’t fight for promotions and raises for your A-players? Good leaders show loyalty to their teams. How can you expect employees to care about you when you don’t care about them? Leaders also need to deal with underachievers — either by improving them, or firing them for the good of the team.
3. You don’t trust your team to do what they do best. This means you don’t know your employees — their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities — and it’s your job to know. Just think of any sport — why certain players are in certain positions — it’s to the best advantage for the team to win. It’s one thing to follow up and monitor progress with your people. It’s another to micromanage them. I learned this from a former boss who meddled in every single thing I handled. The upshot: I never rose to my full potential. Once I reported to someone who trusted me, I got stronger, because it helped me trust myself.
4. You can’t make up your mind, so you don’t inspire confidence. In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s common for companies to zig and zag. However, there has to be clear goals and priorities, otherwise, it’s total pandemonium on the playing field. If you’re too insecure, confused or indecisive, how do you expect your team to know what to do? How do you expect them to trust you if you don’t trust yourself? Your job is to solve problems, so gain clarity by asking questions, and encouraging others to do the same. Yes — skillful leaders always ask questions, and then make decisions accordingly.
5. You don’t listen or encourage questions and feedback. Today’s workplace is all about change, and change is much more successful when you respect and engage the people who will actually execute it. Lay it all out for your team — everything you know and don’t know, and what your concerns are. Provide the view from the top: the priorities, goals and expectations. Never operate under the assumption that employees know what they need to know. Get feedback. Ask questions. Ask for help. Get your peoples’ concerns out in the open. This reveals important information that helps you plan and anticipate problems. This is not only a great team-building exercise, but it gives everyone ownership. Change is much more successful when you engage the people who will execute it.
6. You are not an exemplary team player. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable, and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you really control is you. Your thoughts. Your actions. So — fix them. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader. How can you expect your team to have these attributes when you don’t set the example?
7. You don’t like people. Believe it or not — many executives are put in leadership positions that don’t belong there. They may be terrific at their specialties — technology, finance, design — but they absolutely have no people skills. Management is all about process. Leadership is all about people. You have to love working with people to be in this role. If you don’t, then either get a coach or mentor, or, have the courage to step aside.
True leadership and teamwork give meaning to business. It’s why we sign on and stay. It has the power to ignite high performance and productivity, and is the fuel that carries companies to success.