What’s the #1 thing holding you back? Could it be your leadership style?
Any time I get the chance to sit down with an executive, I ask: “What’s the biggest obstacle to taking your business to the next level?”
Typically I’ll get a variety of very serious responses: “We’re not in alignment”. “We’re not hiring the right kinds of people.” “Turnover is really high.”
And invariably, I respond: “Wow…, that sounds like a leadership issue.” Because if you really take time to think about it, at every level, problems can be traced back to leadership, or rather, the lack of leadership.
In other words, if you’re like 99% of other business owners, vice-presidents, or group heads out there, you’re overworked, stretched too thin, and either unable or unwilling to take your business to the next level.
And I’m sorry to say it, but most times the biggest obstacle to business growth is leadership itself.
Here are the three of the most common, and most natural pitfalls of leadership, and what you can do to avoid them:
If you’re micromanaging every jot and title of your business, you’re the greatest contributor to your own mediocrity. Micromanagement is antithesis of leadership. Your best people will leave you, and you’ll be stuck with mediocre players, and a mediocre organization.
The solution: BE A LEADER: Articulate your vision…. “A computer on every desktop”, and align your systems and your resources. Empower others, and celebrate their successes—and your people will help you fulfill your vision.
2. Poor delegation
You think you’ve delegated a task, but if the job you’ve delegated is not completed correctly, or in a timely fashion, it ends up coming back to you. That’s not delegating. That’s relegating yourself to quality supervisor, and backup quarterback.
The solution: LEARN TO DELEGATE—when you commit or trust a task to a subordinate, be specific about the outcome and the timeline, and let them know they’ll be held accountable. When the task is complete, give them feedback, and let them know if there’s room for improvement.
3. Shooting down ideas
If you become known as someone who is not open to new ideas, your people will stop offering them. This leads to the “I tried to tell him, but he didn’t listen, so he can go fly a kite” syndrome, where your people emulate your leadership style, and work to actively shoot down good ideas for you.
The solution: SHOW YOU LISTEN—Learn the value of “appreciative inquiry.” For example, ask your shop foreman: “What was it like here when things were really running like a top?” Listen to the response, and say: “What would we need to do to make that happen again?” Implement a few of the ideas you hear, and it will have a ripple effect throughout your organization.
The average executive has 37 hours of work on his or her desk. So how would it ever be possible to go in on a weekend to “catch up”? “Catching up” is a fallacy. The truth is you need to learn to be choosy. Concentrate on what your job is… on leadership.
Steven Covey said: “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.”
Accordingly, you need to learn to recognize the things that are really important, work on your ability to prioritize, and steer your people so you’re moving in the right direction.
Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously. Many of the leaders I’ve met with are the most insecure people in their organization. And they compensate for it by being overly decisive or pushy (benevolent-dictator-style of leadership), or too out-of-touch and anesthetic (shut-door-policy-style of leadership).
Just be yourself, and get out of the way. You won’t be sorry—I promise.