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Seven Leadership Mistakes That Deplete The Energy Of Teams

Seven Leadership Mistakes That Deplete The Energy Of Teams

Over the last six months I have had the opportunity to sit down personally with a number of respected CEO’s and CMO’s to discuss their individual approach to successful leadership.

What has been common throughout the conversations is a consistent message of the absolute necessity to be aware of the impact that the energy of a leader can have on organisational energy. It led me to reflect on my own leadership mistakes and those I have observed throughout my career. I share these with you below with some ideas to get back on track as soon as you sense a little familiarity.

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1. Forgetting to fuel your own energy levels first.

Being the boss is a tough gig. It’s not unusual to find that this means putting yourself last. And while well intended it can leave you drained. Energy is contagious, both in the positive and negative sense. So, if you aren’t energized or able to manage your energy well, how can you expect to lead with energy? Tony Schwartz talks about the importance of managing your energy, not your time and ensuring that our four energy systems – the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual are each looked after in their own way.

2. Not setting a team vision.

This is the difference between inspiration and motivation. Motivating people is exhausting. Inspire your team behind a goal that is bigger than the individual, clearly define success and you will unleash energy in your team you never knew existed. And, without any additional energy required from you. Once the goal is set, let your team take responsibility for how it is achieved and get out of the way.

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3. Being inconsistent.

As a leader it is your job to be aware of your energy levels and create a consistent experience of your leadership. Extreme highs and lows in energy will leave a lasting impact on your team. If you are experiencing either, and you are unable to control it, remove yourself from the situation until you can.

4. Not scheduling recovery time.

The impact of corporate burnout can be wide ranging and destructive. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries. Role model down time and insist your team schedule it for themselves too. A depleted team member can impact the energy of the whole team, so make the call and give them permission to take the day off rather than affect everyone. Remember to be consistent about this too.

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5. Conflict between individual contribution and team KPIs.

It is important to make sure your team are rewarded for directing their energy in the right direction. Common sense right? That is until you add the normal complexity that exists in traditional organisations and suddenly you find you have conflicting and often competitive goals. Check that your performance incentives are actually driving the right behaviors. And if your team is working with another team adopt shared goals to create a bigger impact together.

6. Forgetting about the small moments.

Creating the big rah rah of a team workshop is great. Until you walk in the next day and don’t say ‘Hello’ or chose to send an email to a person meters away from you destroying all the great energy you built up. Get up off your ass and have a proper chat, every single day. Or FaceTime is good too.

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7. Try to fix and manage people vs enabling and leading them.

It is not a true leadership responsibility to fix people. It’s the old adage that you can impart all the knowledge in the world to someone, but if they don’t want to change, they won’t. Enable them with tools, knowledge, experience and they’ll take responsibility themselves. Read more on this here.

While the mistakes above are common, with small changes they are also easy to overcome. Regularly checking in with yourself and your team to make sure that bad habits aren’t allowed to creep in is the first step to becoming an energized leader.

Featured photo credit: Jeff Sturges via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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