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How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

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 March 15, 2019

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

    Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

    In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

    What Makes a Leader Fail?

    A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

    If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

    And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

    What Is Effective Leadership?

    Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

    Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

    Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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    “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

    How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

    To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

    1. Courage

    The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

    “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

    Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

    For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

    In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

    It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

    Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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    2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

    If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

    The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

    To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

    3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

    Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

    Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

    4. Likability

    Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

    When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

    Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

    So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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    5. Vulnerability

    Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

    When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

    6. Authenticity

    Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

    Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

    7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

    Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

    Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

    Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

    Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

    As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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    “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

    8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

    Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

    This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

    9. A Passion for Continual Learning

    Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

    These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

    The Bottom Line

    No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

    Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

    More Resources About Effective Leadership

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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