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Posts tagged ‘leadership style’

7 Reasons Leaders Fail

To mangle a 270-year-old sonnet written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning — How do we dislike our bosses? Let us count the ways.

Survey after survey, Americans (and everyone else) trash their bosses. Gallup reports only 12 percent of American workers are engaged. Research conducted and published by Inc. reveals 75 percent of employees say their boss is the worst part of their job. And two-thirds add a new (better) boss is even more desired than a pay raise.

Ouch!

Common Causes Of Employee DissatisfactionBus

Harvard Business Review (HBR) surveyed 300,000 workers and finds the issues workers have with leadership are almost equally divided between actions, and the failure to act.

You’re boring. This is the top complaint of the HBR sample. People look to leaders to create an environment that gets them fired up and inspired. Leaders who failed in their role were often described as being passive and unenthusiastic.

Lack of structure. While few people enjoy being micromanaged, most want structure and direction that support high performance. When goals and timelines are fuzzy or flexible, employees are thrown off balance. The result is stress, hesitation, confusion and frustration.

Image is everything. Leaders more concerned with how they look to their boss rather than their team are unpopular with their followers. These tend to be credit-hogging, under-the-bus throwing leaders whose greatest fear is being outshone by a subordinate (or peer).

Good enough is good enough. Easy to achieve goals do nothing to inspire or reward high performance and top performers. The message these leaders send is “do your job, only your job, and keep your head down.” Not a very inspiring message (see You’re boring).

Play favorites. Leaders seduced into giving plumb assignments to team members who kiss up are viewed as weak and lacking emotional intelligence by followers and peers. Playing favorites  divides followers into “in” and “out” groups and hurts team performance.

Don’t walk the talk. It is pretty easy to understand a leader who preaches “work comes first” and is the last-in and first-out of the office are sowing seeds of resentment. Leaders who fail to keep their word are not considered trustworthy by their teams.

Never change. Leaders who reject every suggestion for improving processes and performance alienate their team. Without any input on what they do or how it is done, people often disengage, which damages their satisfaction, productivity, and enhances turnover.

Leadership is never easy. But, given all the attention improving leadership skills receives, is this list discouraging to you?  If so, what can we do to help leaders succeed?

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC in Naperville, IL., and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting.

(Almost) Anyone Can Become A Leader

Dig into a simple question, such as “what is leadership?” and you will soon be chin deep in a sea of academic papers, books, and contradictory opinions.

Fortunately, I didn’t drown. After 20 years of reading and 30 years of working, I believe the foundation of good leadership is not complicated. However, it can prove elusive to master, and not everyone is cut out for it.

(Almost) Anyone Can Become A Leader

Fortunately, elements of leadership can be learned, and some research points to three specific qualities that are foundational for leader effectiveness. These three qualities have proven to be important in my leadership journey, as well as leaders I have worked with through the years.

Confidence. When a leader has the confidence to take action, it definitely speaks volumes to your followers, peers and supervisor. Confidence is not hubris. It doesn’t imply a leader has all the answers. Instead, leaders assess available options, take appropriate risks, make decisions, and accept responsibility for how their decisions impact their team and the organization.

Confident leaders are far more likely to have an optimistic vision of the present and future. When employees buy into a leader’s positive expectations, they become engaged in a common vision. Their enthusiasm and energy generates action and momentum that sustains gains in performance.

End of the road. Nothing to do, and no

Altruism. An effective leader uses their personal and positional power to benefit others. These leaders manage their teams up in public and private, as well as serve as a mentor. Research is clear that recognition and praise makes work more meaningful for employees, builds the leader-follower relationship, and enhances trust. All these paths lead to greater engagement, productivity and performance.

Future focus. Effective leaders understand and articulate how today’s decisions and actions will impact the future. This ties into being able to explain the “why” behind today’s decisions, and “how” these actions will lead to desired outcomes.  When employees understand the meaningfulness of “why,” and  their role in “how,” a bond develops around the feeling that everyone is working toward the same goal.

What Separates Effective And Exceptional Leaders   

Although there are many factors and personality traits in play, my experience is that 100 percent of exceptional leaders enjoy the work and the responsibilities they shoulder. They are truly excited about their work and share their excitement with everyone they meet. Their energy is contagious and leads to high performing teams and organizations.

Unfortunately, the same contagion effect holds true for leaders who feel burdened by their role, or have burned out. As you might expect, a CEO I worked for nicknamed Eeyore (the gloomy donkey of “Winnie the Pooh”) was never able to sustain a strong organizational culture or performance despite being a good strategist. His negative energy poked through at just the wrong time, and weighed people and performance down.

What other leadership traits and behaviors do you find are needed to be an effective leader?

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC in Naperville, IL., and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting. 

 

You’re A Leader, Now What?

Great news! Your hard work and persistence paid off and you just accepted a leadership position in a new (to you) organization.

Now what?

First, know that every company and team culture is different, so beware of trying a one-size-fits-all leadership style that either worked in the past, comes from the latest best-seller, or even my blogs. However, clients making this transition, and my own experience, have taught me there are at least five leadership behaviors that will get you off to a good start.

-Everything will line up perfectly when

Be authentic. Let your team get to know you. You should be more than a boss, less than a friend, and at all times a human being to your team. And, no one respects a phony.

Your team members represent you whenever they work with others on projects. When you effectively communicate your values, goals and decision-making processes, they are better equipped to act independently and make decisions you support. This also allows you to delegate more effectively, and build trust with your team.

Make time to get to know your team. Spend time in regularly scheduled one-to-one meeting with your direct reports. Ask questions and listen to them using the 80/20 rule. This means team members do 80 percent of the talking. Make these meetings your highest priority. Until and unless you know the strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, motives and temperament of your employees, you can’t unleash their full potential.

Trust your team. Now that you know your team, trust them to do their job. Let them show you what they can, or can’t, do. The best leaders maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses of their team members, and put them in position to be successful.

Be decisive.  In many cases, the position you are walking into has been vacant for several months, which means there are issues that need attention and action. After a period of onboarding and getting settled in, start making decisions. It can be a relief for a team that has been rudderless for a long time to finally see someone acting like they are in charge. Just make sure your one-up is onboard with any major decision you want to make.

Communicate.  You are building relationships, trust and making some decisions, now it is time to communicate your vision – over and over. Never assume your team knows what you know and vice versa. Set and re-set expectations, identify opportunities to improve processes, reward success, and learn from failure. The more you engage your team, the more likely they are to buy into your vision.

Bonus tip: Perhaps this is the hardest advice for leaders coming into a new organization. Bite your tongue whenever you want to say a variation of the phrase: “when I was at company X, we did … ” This comment is really more about puffing ourselves up (and it diminishes your current team) than solving a business problem. If you can manage this, you will reduce eye rolling by 86 percent in team meetings (my estimate).

You are only as successful as your team, so take the time and make the effort to treat them like the partners they truly are.

Need help with a career transition? Use the contact form below for a free, no obligation (I promise) Accelerated Coaching Session.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting.

Your Followers Know Your Leadership Style – Do You?

Be honest. What type(s) of leader are you?

As you go through the list, make a mental note that we are very good at fooling ourselves, and our opinions are biased in favor of protecting our self-image. In reality, the most accurate answer comes from 360 degree feedback (although low-rated leaders often dispute this). But, not everyone has that luxury, so please keep an open mind and read on.

The best executive is the  one who has (3)

Authoritarian/Autocratic. Derided by many as “you are lucky to have a job” leadership. These leaders rely on positional authority to motivate and achieve results. This style has waned in use for many reasons, including it rarely leads to long-term success. Most people can’t wait to get away from these distant and rule-bound bosses.

Paternalistic. A cousin of the authoritarian leader, these are bosses who tell their teams “because I said so,” in either direct or indirect language. As the name implies, these leaders treat their employees like they are children who should be seen and not heard. They often distrust employees, create rigid policies, and share little information. On the plus side, a few of these leaders are protective of their teams and take care of them like they are family.

Democratic. These leaders like to spread decision-making authority to individuals or teams. In a high trust environment, this style empowers followers to collaborate, take reasonable risks, own their success (or learn from failure), and develop a powerful team dynamic.If the leader excludes key people from the decision-making group or is too hands off, this leadership style can create conflict, role uncertainty, and finger-pointing when conflict or failure occur

Laissez-faire. This term describes the “hands-off” leader who gives more autonomy than guidance. This can be effective when followers understand goals, are confident, and highly skilled. It tends to fall apart when leaders do not provide needed resources, access, goals, or fail to reward followers for reaching milestones.

Transactional. A common style, these leaders use rewards and punishments to manage productivity. If followers feel supported, appreciated, and the environment is fair, these leaders can be very effective.

Transactional leaders also can be toxic  when followers feel rewards go to the “in-group,” resources are withheld (and failure becomes the only option), or fail to provide feedback to struggling followers until it is time to punish.

Transformational. Outgoing, energetic, empowering and consensus builders, transformational leaders strive to connect followers to the organization’s highest purpose. These leaders tap into latent energy and are able to unleash it in ways that create growth for the company, and its employees. Truly transformational leaders are few and far between.

Most leaders flow between related styles. It is easy to understand how a leader can be both transactional and Laissez-faire, or authoritarian and paternalistic. Still, you have a dominant style that others can identify, even if you can’t.

Self-awareness is the first step to self-improvement. If you want help with next steps, reach out to me.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting, LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and consulting.

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