Just ‘google’ the topic of ‘traits of an effective leader’ and you will find many articles that provide guidance as to the ‘dos’ of great leadership. When considered and adopted, these things can result in greater success in leading others whether as a company management group, a department head or an adhoc committee. And … what can make doing it right have even greater impact is avoiding the things that work against that potential success.
Here are some of the more basic and foundational things the best and most effective leaders work to avoid in carrying out their roles. A post by Sami Akseli, the head of Marketing for Innoduel, points us to what I have found to be key in various coaching assignments I have had and summarize here.
1) Moving forward without a common goal:
One of the main roles of a leader is to ensure that all members within your organization are aligned toward the achievement of a common goal. It is easy to become siloed and lose sight of the overall thing that your company, department or team is ultimately working to achieve as a whole. If this exists you will find working harder … not in unison but rather in often opposing directions which pushes them farther apart. Leader’s job is the make certain that all are aimed toward achieving the same goal.
Your role as a leader of the individual is to empower them to do the job expected and needed. Rather than telling people what it is they need to do and guide them to find their own way. View mistakes as an opportunity for them to learn and develop. Put your trust in others whose responsibility it is. And most definitely stop scribbling over the small details, rather stand back and help paint the big picture.
Simply put, stop micromanaging!
We live in a world where we must always have an answer. And yet, sometimes we just don’t know. Our education system punished us for not knowing an answer rather than rewarding us for asking for help. “I don’t know” is one of the strongest signs of mutual trust. It shows this person feels truly comfortable and can discuss quite openly. And in turn it’s a sign that everything this person says is straight-up honest and trustworthy. You don’t always need to have an answer to everything. Just say I don’t know, and use this as an opportunity to co-create a solution together.
The only thing worse than making a wrong decision is making no decision at all. As a leader you are required to be able to make confident decisions, quickly which doesn’t mean going with your gut. The path to becoming more decisive requires engaging all your key people in the decision making process and being able to analyze that data in order to make better decisions, quickly.
By ignoring people is meant not asking them in the first place. You, as leader, don’t have to have all the answers, just like you don’t have to always know the right solutions. This is all about engagement and building a more collaborative culture across your entire organization. Given that you have brought all involved to a point of focusing on the achievement of a common goal, now empower individuals to influence the decisions affecting them.
After all this, the worst thing a leader can do is nothing. You must be able to take the results of the previous five points and turn them into action and outcomes. A leader who talks the talk but can’t walk the walk will quickly find the boat is no longer moving even though you have aligned everyone to row together in a common direction. This then, becomes a sure fire way to lose all that trust you have spent a lot of time building.
To the extent that you consider yourself to be an effective leader with all of the right things you do, the above become effective check points to determine that you are not hindering your successful moves by also incorporating the ‘don’ts’ of being an effective leader. Take the litmus test and who knows … maybe you’ll even pass this on to leaders on whose team you work. You’ll only be helping them help your own success!