After training thousands of managers and executives on how to coach and communicate more effectively, one theme persists – frustration. There are a lot of managers who believe their lives would be much easier if their people “sucked less.” My job is to challenge the leader to see how their own performance impacts that of their employees.
Performance problems require leadership solutions
Chances are that your employees do not lack the knowledge, skills or attitude to be successful performers; they need more leadership and mentoring.
One of my mentors shared many lessons on effective leadership. Like most people, I associated “lessons” with the difficult task of learning something new. But the easiest and most effective lesson was learning to stop unproductive behaviors.
Even if you don’t exhibit all of these behaviors, it may be useful to see if they exist in the smallest way. So, here are seven things to stop doing. I call them the “Seven Bad Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders.”
1. Stop Complaining. It’s easy to complain, especially if it takes attention away from your own performance. Never forget that you are part of the team – when you disparage any of your people you are also commenting on your inability to manage them well.
2. Stop Giving Your Opinion. When someone brings an idea to you, don’t judge it immediately. Get in the habit of saying “Great job, I’ll spend some time on this and get back to you in a day or two.” At least if you have some criticism of their work, you can take some time to find what was good about it to talk about at a later time.
3. Stop Exaggerating. I know this one may be tough, because you don’t think that you do it at all. Consider that when you really take a look at all those problems you are having with your people, you might be making mountains out of mole hills. Make a list of all the activities that you expect your people to do on a daily or weekly basis. Put a check mark by all the ones that are not getting done to your satisfaction. How bad is the output to the overall goals of your team? Do those activities control a significant portion of your team’s output? If not, stop putting so much importance on things that don’t really matter.
4. Stop Jumping to Conclusions. Especially when it comes to assessing what your people are and are not capable of - knowing their strengths and weaknesses is only part of the equation. Do you understand what motivates them and how they define success? It sucks when your boss doesn’t know how to help you meet your goals. So suck less by seeking first to understand where your people will excel naturally and where they need your help to improve their performance.
5. Stop resisting feedback. I have a group of friends that cling to one great statement. They say “if three of us tell you that you are dead, lay down.” Stop ignoring all the great feedback that you are getting from your direct reports. They are giving it without saying a word, but you have to pay attention. Watch how they react when you speak. Notice what happens when you walk into a room. Wake up and stop ignoring all the signs your team is giving you.
6. Stop pretending you know everything. If the people around you want your input, I promise you, they will ask. Your team solves problems and takes care of customers – they’re not there to take dictation when you drop your brilliance on them. Be the one that asks questions and discovers knowledge amongst your employees. Acknowledge them for what they know and they will know how much you care.
7. Stop doing it alone. Donald Keough, former CEO of the Coca-Cola Company once said, “what separates those who achieve from those that do not is in direct proportion to their ability to ask for help.” If you could identify with any of the above behaviors that you could STOP to suck less, this bad behavior of “doing it alone” will cause you to suck more in so many ways.
When you ask for help, you give up most of the seven bad behaviors. You get immediate feedback on the real “size” of the problem; you give up your own opinion about the limitations of others; you stop complaining and get into action; you solicit the opinion of others; you give up the right to ignore feedback; and you give up pretending you know everything; And best of all, you give up the stress of “doing it alone” and you already know how much that sucks.
Take on one habit that doesn’t suck and you remove seven bad habits that do.
Dominic Carubba is a Certified Performance Consultant and a champion of the power of the human spirit. He works with owners, managers and executives to make them more human by teaching them to coach and communicate more effectively so that they are less stressed and their people are more productive. He operates the Center for Performance Solutions where he has coined the phrase “Performance Problems Require Leadership Solutions!”
You can reach Dominic by email: Dominic@PerformanceSolutionsCenter.com.