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10 Signs You’re A Follower Instead Of A Leader

10 Signs You’re A Follower Instead Of A Leader

While the term leadership is often applied in the world of business, it is in fact a far broader concept that can be applied throughout everyday life. From visionary thought leaders and military generals to those who simply want to build a better life for themselves, leadership is an attribute that can help everyone to achieve their individual goals.

This underlines the importance of self-improvement, as we look to develop the fundamental leadership skills that will enable us to achieve multiple forms of success. Without these, you may consign yourself to the role of follower and struggle to achieve your full potential as an individual.

With this in mind, here are 10 clear signs that you are a follower rather than a bold and confident leader:

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1. You lack emotional intelligence

While emotional intelligence may not seem like a fundamental component of successful leadership, it is impossible to build an aura of respect and authority without valuing the feelings of those around us. It can also isolate you from others, making it difficult to form either personal or professional relationships. Take the example set by Mitt Romney when campaigning in the U.S. election of 2012, when he famously claimed that ‘43% of the American population were losers’. This type of senseless diatribe shows a complete lack of respect for others, while it also showcases a lack of common sense and restraint. Unless you can empathise or respect the feelings of fellow humans, it is impossible to lead others or develop beneficial relationships for the future.

2. You are easily influenced in your decision making

Decision making is another crucial aspect of leadership, whether you are a captain of industry, keen to improve your existing lifestyle or voting in an election. Successful leaders are decisive and able to think independently, for example, while those who follow are all too easily influenced when attempting to reach a definitive conclusion. This was underlined during the recent UK election; as although an estimated 30 million votes were cast nationwide there is additional evidence to suggest that 59% of the electorate would be unable to name the British Prime Minister. This raises the spectre of ignorant voting, and unless you are able to research specific topics and think independently to make an informed decision you will never be able to succeed in leadership.

3. You follow rules rather than breaking them

There are a number of fundamental differences between leaders and followers, with their unique approach to rules providing a prominent example. While leaders are receptive to the need for change and capable of breaking rules for the greater good, followers are far more inclined to adhere to the status quo without question. There is also an issue of courage, as those with leadership potential have far greater conviction when it comes to driving change and pushing even unpopular reforms. If you have aspirations of leadership, you must therefore develop an analytical mind that can identify opportunities for change and remain strong in the face of criticism.

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4. You are risk averse

In the pursuit of change, you may also need to take risks in addition to breaking rules. As a result of this, the stereotypical leader has a huge appetite for risk and is willing to trust their instinct when making difficult decisions. In contrast, followers tend to be risk-averse in their nature and are unwilling to take actions or decisions that may trigger a negative reaction in some. If you wish to overcome this innate fear and emerge as a strong leader that can control individual situations, you will need to step out of your comfort zone and start taking calculated risks for the greater good.

5. You are receptive to talent

From a business perspective, talent is crucial to breaking new ground and achieving long-term success. Those with genuine leadership skills therefore tend to attract and engage talent better than followers, primarily because they are secure in their own abilities and able to surround themselves with uniquely skilled individuals without becoming envious. As followers typically lack a strong, independent mind and self-confidence, they can quickly begin to question their own ability when they are surrounded by highly skilled and talented individuals. This can create a barrier to forging any positive professional or personal relationships, and in this respect developing an appreciation of talent and unique skill-sets can enable you lead a much-improved existence.

6. You get results in the wrong way

There is a fine line between leadership and bullying, and this is underlined by the fact that successful CEO’s such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have been accused of using intimidatory tactics. Despite this, true leadership skills enable individuals to influence and inspire others through encouragement, whereas followers who attempt to lead often resort to using aggression, manipulation and coercion to solicit compliance. It is crucial that you understand this core difference, and remember that the ends do not justify the means when it comes attempting to lead others. Aggression alone does not make you a leader, and in fact it can prevent you from ever achieving your full potential as an individual.

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7. You lack time management skills

This is one of the more subtle differences that separate leaders from followers, as those with leadership qualities have innate time management skills that enable them to organise both themselves and those around them. Whether you manage a team of employees or simply want to develop an effective daily schedule, your ability to prioritise tasks and complete them efficiently is crucial. Followers tend to lack this skill, as their lack of foresight and passive nature means that are happy either to drift or allow others to manage their time. To change this behavioural pattern you will need to take the initiative and be proactive when scheduling tasks and creating time frames for completion.

8. You lack discipline as an individual

According to inspirational entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn, discipline is “the bridge between goals and accomplishment”. This is something that true leaders can identify with, as they tend to be extremely disciplined in their nature and are able to work in an extremely focused and dedicated manner at all time. In contrast, followers tend to be easily distracted by their surroundings and lack the mental fortitude to achieve long-term aspirations. This can highly detrimental, as even those with a strong sense of ambition and a keen work-ethic will fail without drive or self-discipline. Fortunately discipline can be learned over a period of time, especially if you are willing to schedule goals and develop a long-term plan for your advancement as an employee or individual.

9. You are not in control of your emotions

In a similar vein, leaders tend to retain greater control of their emotions and maintain a more consistent mood. This is not to say that they do not struggle with emotional highs and lows (as we all do), but they do possess the mental strength and character to manage these feelings without it impacting on their productivity or mood. Followers often lack this ability, which means that they are prone to emotional outbursts or periods of depression that can distract them from achieving a specific goal. To overcome this sensitivity and emerge as a potential leader, you must therefore embrace practical techniques for taking control of your emotions and challenging them into positive energy.

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10. You lack a clear and translatable vision

Famous essayist and poet Jonathon Swift was renowned for his interpretation of being a visionary, which he described as the art ‘of seeing what is invisible to others’. This also provides a clear distinction between leaders and followers, as while the former have a clear and concise understand of what they want to achieve in the long-term the latter are more inclined to live for the moment. This is why clarity of thought is such an important leadership quality, as is the willingness to make sacrifices today for the good of tomorrow. If you want to develop your leadership skills, it is imperative that you are able to prioritise clearly defined, long-term goals that can be achieved through a series of stages.

Featured photo credit: Leadership – Jessica Lucia via flickr.com

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Published on February 12, 2019

10 Ways to Improve Team Management Skills and Boost Performance

10 Ways to Improve Team Management Skills and Boost Performance

I have spent the majority of my life as an entrepreneur, as did my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. It just seemed to be something in our genes that made us want to stretch out our wings and do our own thing.

But a few years ago, I sold my businesses and got tired of the golf 5 days a week. Not to mention that health insurance as well as other costs where going up and my income wasn’t. So I decided to take a job as a manager with a fortune 500 company. Here I would get income, benefits and a taste of corporate life that I had never experienced.

I lasted two months! In my opinion, the management style hurt productivity much more than it helped. As a manager, I was expected to rule my team with an iron fist. It was literally in their handbook that no matter how good an employee was, there was no such thing as a perfect employee so I was to address the most minor issues with the best employees. This never helped team cohesiveness and frankly created resentment between management and employee.

So after two months, I walked into the bosses office and said that I was not fit for the corporate culture at this company. Despite never telling me I had done a good job, he started offering me incentives to stay, more pay, a better position etc… But I knew that this was the companies culture from the beginning and it wasn’t going to change, so I politely declined and started my own affiliate marketing business.

Now over the years I have owned and operated many different types of businesses with the number of employees ranging from 1 (me), to over 400 and plenty in-between, I have tried many different management styles and while depending on the business and who your employees are, some management styles worked better than others. But generally, I have found ten relatively simple ways to improve team management skills and boost productivity.

I have found that if you’re an owner, high level executive or just a manager of a single team of people these ten tips can boost productivity in almost every situation:

1. Be Clear About Your Goals and Write Them Down

Now this part in particular needs to be written by the owner or CEO, as the lower level managers will take those goals and apply them to their own teams of people.

Note that this doesn’t mean writing down “We are going to make widgets and become the most profitable widget maker in the world.” Anyone could come up with that. Your goals must be clear and attainable and have ways to measure progress. A much clearer goal would be to increase profits by 10% in a year. You can then have specific goals for the managers of different departments.

For example the goal for the marketing manager may be to find new and more efficient ways of marketing so that your marketing efforts reach 5% more customers with the same budget. The production manager may have some good ideas about streamlining production to increase productivity. A goal for the sales manager maybe to break into a new or untapped market.

The important thing is that your overall goals are clear, all of your managers are on board and know what is expected of them and that you continuously monitor each departments progress. This process should be repeated by your managers to their team members.

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2. Come up with Objectives

Now this may sound the same a coming up with goals, but it’s not.

Goals can be thought of as the end result, where you want to be. Objectives are the steps you must take to reach the goals. Take a look at this article to know their differences:

Goals vs Objectives: How to Use Them to Become Successful in Life?

For example. a goal might be to increase customer satisfaction and the objectives to getting there might include faster shipping times, easier returns and improvements in customer service etc.

4. Hire Competent People, Then Get out of Their Way

As a manager, your boss or senior executive should have gone over the companies goals so that you have a good understanding of where the company wants to be. A good manager should set out clear goals for the department with reasonable, attainable and measurable goals. You can then take the goals that have been set for your department and give them to each employee according to their skill level.

Now you may have noticed the second part of the tip was to “get out of their way.” This is only if you hired the people who have the correct skills. Part of your job as a manager is to check on and measure progress of your employees. If you are finding someone who just can’t seem to keep up, try setting them up with a mentor, or even beak down their job responsibilities so they don’t seem overwhelming.

But the bottom line is that you have a responsibility to the company to get your part of the overall mission finished on time and done well, otherwise it reflex on you as a manager. While no one likes it, termination maybe the only solution.

5. Have Regular Meetings with Your Staff

Problems, issues and bottlenecks will inevitably arise in any organization. Part of your job as a manager is to identify the issues and correct them before they become problems.

Having regular productive meetings with your staff is key to identifying problems before they get out of control.

Let’s just say that your employees are having a hard time shipping items on time because they can’t get them from the warehouse soon enough. This is where you earn your money!

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What you don’t want is people from the shipping department calling up the warehouse and it turning into a screaming match. It’s time for a meeting with the warehouse manager. Perhaps the issue is that they aren’t getting reliable predictions about the number of units being sold each month. Now we have identified the problem, a lack of communication between sales and warehouse.

Almost all issues arise because of a lack (or problem with) communication. A good manager will be the go between for the team and the managers of the other teams. As long as cool heads prevail, you can almost always come up with a solution that satisfies everyone.

6. Use the “Sandwich” Method When Dealing with Problems That Arise from Otherwise Good Employees

Everyone makes mistakes, some are small and can be dealt with a memo to the team or a quick word with the offending employee. However, an otherwise excellent employee can make a major mistake that can cause a serious disruption to your units responsibility. These types of problems need to be addressed by you, the manager.

As long as this is a one time occurrence and the employee has not had issues in the past. The sandwich approach is the the best.

Start by explaining that the employee is valuable to the organization and that their work has generally been a positive influence in the company.

Next address the problem that occurred and what steps could be taken to avoid simular problem in the future.

Close the conversation by reiterating the value the employee has to the company and reinforce the steps that will be taken to avoid the problem again.

7. Always Remember That Examples Work Better Than Positive Reinforcement or Negative Reinforcement

The carrot and the stick has always been a resource for managing employees. You can use the carrot to entice your employees to do what you want, or you can use the stick to punish the employees for not doing what was expected of them. Or you can be an example of whats expected of them.[1]

As I said before, everyone screws up, including you. When you do screw up, take responsibility for it!

Part of your job as a manager is to be an example to those you manage. Be open about your mistakes and the steps you are taking to avoid doing the same thing in the future. After all, you can’t expect your employees to admit mistakes if you’re not the example.

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There should be a process in place for when things like this happens. Acknowledge the problem, analyze the root cause of the problem, implement procedures to avoid reoccurrence of the mistake, evaluate the solution you’ve come up with and, if it works, move on.

8. Be Smart About Building Your Team

As a manager, you have to deal with a lot of different situations, people and personalities. You also are going to be given new and sometimes more responsibilities, including things like budgeting, forecasts, presentations and payroll. So think seriously about your own strengths and weaknesses so you can hire accordingly.

You want people who will complement your strengths and help you with your weaknesses. There’s an old saying that you should “hire slow and fire quickly “.[2] It’s a good thing to keep in mind, take your time to find the right person for the job.

Once you have trained them and given them all the tools for the job, then you can evaluate them. If for whatever reason they aren’t living up to expectations (that you were clear about!) Then, it might be best to terminate them quickly and search for a new person.

I see so many situations where a person is hired for a job that they aren’t qualified for or just can’t do a good job at and they stay there year after year. Keeping the wrong people will hurt your team, inspire resentment with the other team members and you’ll spend a lot more time babysitting instead of focusing on more important things.

This actually goes back to taking responsibility for your mistakes. You’ve identified the mistake of hiring the wrong person, so solve it quickly, rectify it by hiring the right person and move on.

9. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Promote It Within Your Team

We’ve all had that grumpy boss or coworker who never seemed to care much. Did you respect and look up to them? Of course not, people are naturally attracted to others who have an upbeat positive attitude.

Having a positive attitude will make your job as a manager so much easier just because people are much more likely to follow you.

As for your team, encourage team building activities. We know that not everyone will like or even get along with everyone else. So use team building exercises as a way to make sure that your team stays goal orientated.

10. Don’t Forget to Use Positive Reinforcement

Often, we get too caught up in what we are doing. After all, as managers, we are usually juggling several different issues, problems and deadlines all at once, that we forget to just say “thank you”.

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Don’t have the attitude that your employees are just doing their jobs. That project deadline that got pushed up, the unexpected project that got dropped on your teams lap make everyone’s life harder. Especially yours, you now have one more ball to juggle.

So when that project gets done on time or you made the new deadline, don’t forget to show gratitude to your team who were the ones that really made it possible. Yes, you still have 4 balls juggling in the air, but just like having a positive attitude makes you a more effective leader.

Positive reinforcement strengthens that manager employee relationship.[3] It can take many different forms, and will vary by company, some may allow an extra day of PTO, gift cards, public recognition or just a private acknowledgement from you the boss, whatever form it takes it’s important that their achievements are appreciated.

The Bottom Line

Managers have multiple responsibilities and jobs to preform, and I can guarantee that one of the most important tasks of management is to utilize all the company’s assets in the most efficient and productive way possible.

If you manage employees, then they represent a large company asset that you have an obligation to run as productively as possible.

By giving your employees the proper training up-front and practicing good communication techniques, you can minimize the time you spend fixing mistakes and focus on delivering on-time projects and new business. This can mean a huge increase in productivity at minimal costs.

I don’t know any boss that wouldn’t like to see a boost in performance that takes little to no investment. So set yourself up for success with these 10 tips to improve team management skills and boost performance.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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