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How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

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How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

In some cases, employees within a company start out at the bottom and work their way up over time. In other cases, people are hired directly into management. Whatever the experience has been for you, opportunities are to be had along the way. As the below infographic will show, there are different levels to each individual’s abilities. Below I will explain the moments of opportunity that you have as an individual to grab hold of along the way and how you can be a leader no matter what level you find yourself in today.

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    Level 1 Highly Capable Individual

    This is where the molding of an individual happens in the workplace.

    Level 2 Contributing Team Member

    Once you have time to begin feeling comfortable in level one, then you can begin contributing more to your team. This is where the buy-in to the company’s vision takes place, and you can not only improve yourself, but you can begin to show others what you have learned.

    Level 3 Competent Manager

    After a contributing team member spends time honing in and crafting their knowledge and expertise, it won’t be long until this individual will be looked at for advancement. Have your work be so excellent that it speaks for itself and moves you higher into a position of authority.

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    Level 4 Effective Leader

    The main difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader leads people while a manager manages things. I don’t know about you, but influencing people sounds like it has a lot more impact than managing things. Don’t settle for being a manager, but focus on how becoming a leader will set you apart from the crowd.

    Level 5 Executive

    When you find yourself at this level you are usually very knowledgeable, have a sense of ownership with your company, are invested in the people that work for you, are self-motivated, and are very driven to expand your company to places that it has never been before.

    Of course, the above example is the natural progression of someone who is in a company over a period of time who works their way up the company ladder. But again, the main point to take from leadership here is that no matter what level you are in as described by the infographic, you can be a leader. Leadership is a daily choice that each one of us makes. A common misconception is that leadership is a title and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Leadership is a mindset that an individual has to influence others in either a negative or a positive manner.

    In contrast, each of us face a few key points along our leadership journey to either exceed expectations or fail miserably in. While in some things it is okay to fail because we get the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, there are a few areas in which there really is no room for error. It could be the rise or fall of a company’s existence.

    Listed below are some of the most common mistakes that leaders make and how you as a leader can avoid them:

    1. Denial

    This is key point number one because it’s usually black or white on this subject and not much gray area. Leaders are either okay with confrontation or they aren’t. They either want to deal with the issues that they need to or they shy away from them, hoping somehow they deal with themselves. The situations that I am describing happen most often when leaders like to avoid confrontation.

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    So, can leaders learn to face problems head on even if they aren’t wired for confrontation? Absolutely. Leaders who are in the “trenches” on a daily basis need to see the issues at hand that are causing real problems. When leaders see first hand the magnitude of why something needs to be done immediately to solve a problem, they will begin to realize why confrontation is a must, even if they aren’t a confrontational person.

    Leaders can avoid denial by not only being available to see that what is happening within the company, but aware, self-motivated, and passionate about what they are doing.

    When passion is lacking from a leader, they are not the only ones that are affected. Company employees feel the brunt of a leader’s inability in their day-to-day work environment.

    2. Keeping all the power

    When responsibility isn’t given away to others, it does two things. First, it will cause quick burnout in the lives of leaders. Second, it makes others feel useless. A lack of teamwork and communication ensues.

    You can avoid this by developing trust with your team.

    Trusting others by delegating necessary tasks and empowering others to make decisions is a step in the right direction. Delegation should always be a top priority when possible to maintain focus on your top daily plans. Leaders, begin to mentor others instead of keeping all of the responsibility to yourselves.

    Create a team mentality in your endeavors. When people feel they can add value, it creates a feel of ownership that cannot be replaced.

    3. Lack of vision

    To avoid a lack of vision, you need to have the right vision. You first need to know the “Why.”

    As a leader, you not only need to know the WHY behind why you are doing what you do, but you have to communicate it to those around you. Do you do what you do because of your customers? Because of your staff? Because you want to be your best? Because it is fun? Whatever your reason is, it needs to be contagious. Once you have the idea behind the why, you need to write out a mission statement. Let this be your motivation. Let this be the motivation of those around you. You will need to look at it on those days you just don’t feel like it, so keep it handy.

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    Once this step is taken care of, it is time to make a few plans. First, make a five year plan. Where do you want to be in five years? Dream big. Now, work backwards. What is a realistic plan for three years from now to get you to that five year plan? More importantly, what do you need to be doing this year, this quarter, this month, this week, and today to get there. What is your plan for this year to get you to your wildest dreams? This is yet another piece of important information that you need to keep in front of you to drive you through those times that you feel that mediocrity is okay.

    It is important to know that those feelings of mediocrity, but it is even more important to know how to push through these moments.

    If you do what I have mentioned previously, you will avoid the downfall of taking everything as it comes instead of planning. It is easy to find yourself here, if not careful. When your schedule fills up because items weren’t taken care of, unnecessary stress is soon to follow. Avoid this stress that doesn’t have to happen by planning ahead, making a clear plan, and communicating it to your team. This is another step that will make your life easier as a leader and will help your team stay motivated and committed.

    4. Creativity is not a priority

    Thinking outside the box is necessary for any kind of growth to happen. It is more important than ever for continuous momentum so that growth is top-of-mind for leaders, both personally and in the business world. There is more competition than ever before and other important factors that will either help or hurt you in your journey.

    Avoid a lack of creativity by facing your fears and stepping out.

    Trying new things is a necessity in the creativity process. Don’t be afraid to step out and push others to reach inside themselves to find the most potential. Learn that it is okay to make creative mistakes along the way to find greatness and to become a better leader.

    5. Not looking at the people on your team

    Maybe you are doing all the right things, but haven’t looked at the team you are leading. Don’t get comfortable where things are when you could be increasing your reach to even more than where it is right now.

    Avoid becoming stale by always having a fresh perspective on the state of your team.

    Do you have the best people on the team? If you do, then great. They may just not be in the right spot. Team chemistry is too important to overlook. Is your team cohesive in their pursuits? If not, it may be time to look for other teammates.

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    Are the wrong people on the bus or are they just not in the right seat?

    6. Personal relationships with your team isn’t important

    People will want to do more for you when they like you rather than when they are afraid of you or just don’t know what to say to you.

    Relationships are key to having a flow of communication. Trust comes through strong relationships, and that is when people will be able to open up and add even more value than they are right now. Go out of your way to create one-on-one time with each individual on your team to further engage on a personal level. Doing this will open dialogue both in your personal and professional environment.

    Avoid connection problems with others by creating strong relationships through genuinely wanting to know other people on a friendship level rather than just a surface, business level.

    Ask yourself,

    Who am I leading, helping, and inspiring?

    If leadership is influence, then you need to know who you are leading.

    Through this one question you can begin to really grasp the magnitude of your reach as a leader.

    Yes, being a leader is an incredibly important role that deserves your attention. But, even if you see that you possess one, a few, or even all of these traits, it isn’t too late to switch your leadership style and begin making less leadership mistakes. Begin using these six laid out steps to improve your leadership level and become a better leader starting today.

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

    “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

    Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

    “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

    Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

    Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

    “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

    This is my mantra:

    I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

    But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

    Addiction to Productivity is Real

    Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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    “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

    Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

    “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

    Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

    “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

    “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

    “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

    There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

    Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

    By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

    Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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    Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

    Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

    Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

    The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

    Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

    • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
    • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
    • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
    • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
    • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
    • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
    • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

    The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

    Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

    Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

    1. Set Limits

    Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

    For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

    2. Create a Not-to-Do List

    Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

    3. Be Vulnerable

    By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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    4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

    Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

    Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

    There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

    5. Don’t Be a Copycat

    Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

    That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

    6. Say Yes to Less

    Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

    That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

    Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

    7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

    “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

    “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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    • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
    • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
    • Establish realistic goals.
    • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
    • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
    • Hold yourself accountable.
    • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
    • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

    8. Simplify

    Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

    The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

    9. Learn How to Relax

    “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

    “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

    “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

    But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

    • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
    • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
    • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
    • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
    • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
    • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
    • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
    • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
    • Visit a massage therapist.
    • Just breathe.

    “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

    It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

    Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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