There are plenty of things that can hold high potential leaders back from achieving the level of impact they are capable of. Based on my experience observing leaders, working for leaders, coaching leaders and also being a leader myself I’ve identified a number of frequent blocks to progress.
If you want to be a better leader stop doing these 18 things:
1) Short-term thinking
It’s all too easy for a leader to get caught up in the issues of today and not plan sufficiently for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.
2) Putting yourself first
The best leaders have a genuine desire to looking after the needs of others ahead of themselves, and they make choices accordingly.
3) Managing in a bubble
Many leaders become so deeply involved in work they have right in front of their noses that they lose touch with the things that are happening around them.
4) Thinking you know everything
Good leaders know that it’s not possible to have all the answers, and they draw readily on the advice ad expertise of people around them.
5) Taking stars for granted
Some managers leave their best employees alone, thinking they don’t need attention, and then wonder why they lose interest and leave. Investing time in stars will help them truly shine.
6) Mismatched words and actions
To inspire willing followership, it is critical that what a leader says and what a leader does are aligned. “Do as I say, not as I do” never works.
7) Being distant from the team
A genuine human connection with team members is not only possible but essential for a leader. Time spent creating these connections is never wasted.
8) Inflexible opinions and views
While there’s a lot to be said for consistency, leaders who stay rigidly tied to their positions and opinions in a rapidly changing world will quickly lose credibility and impact.
9) Acting like someone you’re not
Leadership is about many things, but it’s definitely not about acting. Good leaders bring their full and best selves to work and they show this freely to others around them.
10) Working excessive hours
Effective leaders know that results are more important than hours spent, and they set up patterns of work which are realistic and sustainable.
11) Ineffective managing upwards
The best leaders know they have two important jobs. One is to manage their teams, and the other is to manage and influence the people they are accountable to.
12) Under-utilising strengths
While it is useful to attend to areas of weakness, leaders who have a clear view of their strengths and actively put these strengths to good use tend to be happier and more successful.
13) Falling into the “busy trap”
All leaders have multiple demands on their time. Some blindly respond to every request and get caught in the “busy trap”. Others take a more considered approach, dedicating their energy to what is most important.
14) Playing it safe
True leadership is about forging new paths, rather than just doing what has been done before. This calls for a willingness to experiment and it calls upon leaders to be brave.
15) Talking more than listening
When we truly listen we understand, we learn, and we build connections. Leaders who spend too much time delivering messages and not enough time listening miss out on so much.
16) Ignoring your own learning
Leaders who engage in regular learning constantly regenerate themselves and develop fresh new perspectives. Leaders who ignore their learning will stagnate.
17) Dodging the spotlight
Regardless of personality preferences all leaders need to practice becoming comfortable and confident stepping forward into the spotlight.
18) Being overly pessimistic
Teams draw energy from their leaders, and nothing drags a team down faster than working for a leader who conveys a negative energy. Thinking positive and behaving positively makes a world of difference.
I’ve certainly done a few of these things when I’ve been in leadership roles and chances are you may have as well. The news is good though. If you can stop doing just one or two of these things you will very likely become a better leader and make a bigger impact on the things you care about.