Given my current political campaign and your awareness of politics, this list may well start with the word Twitter. However, in the workplace, what leaders need to stop doing often depends on the results he or she is getting. But, wait. There are a few actions that when done repeatedly reap the same dastardly recipe for ticked off, confused, and unproductive employees. For heaven’s sake, stop doing those things, but perhaps we should look at what those things might be exactly. If you’re a leader and you want to have a high performing team, stop committing these three actions:
Very little drives even the most loyal and empathetic of employees more crazy, than a leader who makes a decision one moment, changes their mind the next and continues to second guess themselves. Certainly, the team members who need quick decisions will find a way to work around the leader. The employees who need direction will quickly learn their leader is not a viable source for anything consistent. And as in any changing environment, for which any office would now qualify, making a new decision is fine, as is even changing one’s mind, but it’s the lack of consistency in the direction everyone is headed that creates insanity. Weigh all the input. Trust your gut. Make a choice and go in that direction. Then gather more input and project a few steps ahead before you determine what’s not working and needs to change. Decisions don’t always have to be right, just made and learned from going forward.
If you’ve done the job of the team member you are now training, one of the worst phrases and actions to be taken, is dumbing down the information. If you’ve hired someone with the capability to do the job in which you’ve placed them, then train them like you believe it. Oversimplifying is insulting and reveals your expectations of their poor potential, which most will unfortunately meet, availing you of the opportunity to have been correct. Simplifying the personalities of team members with name tags and colors is equally dangerous. People are not simple, and their behavior changes based on stress levels. If you endeavor to use an assessment tool, go all the way with it and stop just getting the labels without realizing you only know enough to be dangerous. Leadership is not simple. It does have a pattern, perhaps even a cadence once one gets a little experience. Leadership cannot, however, ever, be put on auto-pilot. If you’re not driving your own leadership, how on earth will you prepare or react when something unexpected jumps in front of you?
Anything that happens on the team, from the team, because of the team, or to the team, rests on the responsibility of the leader. As Will Smith has shared in Facebook videos, remember there is a big difference between fault and responsibility. However, leaders nationwide are spending valuable time and energy blaming a generation, a lack of understanding, or a difference for the outcomes with which they are displeased. Yes, our workforce generations have differences. No, you can’t lead a millennial like you can a Gen X team member. Yes, communication is key to leadership and everyone does it differently. You can continue to insist they understand only your style or start working on how to modify your message. Yes, sometimes differences are good and sometimes they’re a pain, but if differences are really a problem for a leader, perhaps they should consider working in an assembly line with repeated showings of the identical widget. Yet, kidding aside, leaders take responsibility for their own actions and those of their team members. What can be adjusted? What changed that we didn’t expect? What do we need to change now as a result?
One must only lead for about a minute to realize that leadership is an active process and not a one and done event. A promotion to leading will test the very fiber of one’s character in that there are always changes, always something else to be addressed, and always other people’s needs and changes, which increases what a leader must be aware of, exponentially. It’s not easy or simple and yet, it’s in the moments when things do come together, even if only briefly, that a leader can see his or her persistence, resilience, ability to get through the tough stage, and capacity to change was all worth the effort.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121. To learn more about the CORE Profile® or to complete the abbreviated, free, CORE Snapshot™, follow this link.