As we head into winter, now’s a great time to start planning for 2020.
How will you face the challenge of developing your leadership skills in the new year?
Whilst it’s sometimes easy to focus on what you would like to be doing (improving communication, learning new skills, coming up with innovative ideas, hitting new targets) what about thinking about the things you should stop doing?
Leadership can be challenging. However, some of your habits may have made it more difficult for you.
Is your mindset causing you to stall in productivity? Perhaps your outlook and habits are causing inefficiency? Sometimes habits become so embedded we no longer acknowledge we have them.
Many managers fall into the same trap and in doing so, scupper themselves from growing as leaders.
So, if you are doing any of the things below – stop it right now. And make new habits for 2020!
1. Having Unclear Expectations
Do your team know what’s expected of them?
It’s your responsibility to lay out the goals and provide direction to your team. If you haven’t already, you need to plan a clear and focused strategy and communicate it to them.
When everyone knows what the big picture is, they know where they fit in and can work collaboratively to achieve the end goal.
Oh, it’s so much easier to talk about doing something than actually knuckling down to getting it done.
However, you won’t achieve great things if you can’t get around to tackling that project or task.
Tim Urban illustrates how procrastination runs away with us in a very entertaining Ted talk. I can thoroughly recommend it to you (if you have no urgent tasks to complete!) But, amusement aside, it is an excellent explanation of just how difficult getting things done can be if you are an extreme procrastinator.
For further information, I also recommend the chapter on ‘putting first things first’, in Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which provides a useful matrix for working out urgent/non urgent activities against important/non-important tasks.
So, don’t shy away from challenging work – face it head–on, first thing in your working day, and focus on it fully. That way, you get it done early in the day, leaving you free to concentrate on other things without it looming like a dark cloud over your head.
3. Attending (and Organising) Unproductive Meetings
You might have seen the cartoon about being bored at work – the one that goes “Bored working on your own? Why not hold a meeting? You can see people, show charts, feel important, etc…”
Yes, it’s funny, but it’s sadly true that many meetings seem to be held for no apparent reason.
Meetings should be focused, with a proper agenda and ideal outcomes. If you need to get people together to discuss an issue, find a way forward or plan for events, that’s fine. Just make sure you are clear in what you want to achieve, and that you are inviting the right people.
If you don’t believe your attendance is necessary at a meeting – clarify with the organiser what the agenda is and what your expected contribution will be.
Don’t be tempted to attend meetings just for the sake of it. They are not a practical alternative to work, despite what the cartoon implies!
4. Being Invisible
Remember in the 1980’s Hewlett Packard evolved a system called MBWA (Management by Walking Around)? The idea was to increase productivity and morale by having managers leave their offices and communicate face to face with employees.
To encourage effective two-way communication with your team, and possibly develop some out of the box thinking – great leaders need to be present in the workplace.
You’re not a distant figurehead – supportive leaders create happy and productive teams.
So, get out there. Talk to your team, make yourself available for discussion and feedback, and employ active listening to engage with your team. You could also consider having an ‘open-door’ policy.
Doing everything yourself doesn’t help anyone.
By involving yourself in your team’s tasks, you end up having more work than you can manage and are unable to clear your workload.
Micromanaging also serves to demoralise your team as it implies you don’t think they can do the job without your full and constant involvement.
Don’t let mentoring become micromanaging. You hired these people because they could do the job – so let them do it.
6. Getting Distracted by Social Media
Don’t be a slave to the ping.
A great technique to cope with constant social media interruptions is to allocate specific times in your day to deal with them. So, for example, you might decide to allocate slots at 8 am, 1 pm and 5 pm to answer messages, message others, post articles etc.
That way, you can get on with your work without constant interruption.
7. Being Afraid To Fail
Mistakes happen. It’s a fact of life.
But how you deal with them says a lot about your leadership skills.
As a leader, you need to embrace the risk, or you will fail to achieve anything in the long term.
So, if you find you are avoiding taking risks with innovation and ideas because of Fear of Failure (also called atychiphobia), it’s time for a new mindset that allows you to see mistakes as a learning curve. Acknowledge, accept, learn from and consider them as a one-time deal – and then move on.
8. Never Being ‘Done’
I once attended an NLP session that likened your daily energy to a pie.
The concept goes: You only have one pie, and it‘s only so big. Therefore, you need to decide just how much of the pie you’re going to invest in individual situations because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
This analogy stuck with me, and now I’m conscious of how I divide my ‘pie’ up to ensure I have some energy left at the end of the working day to enjoy time with my friends and family.
Burnout is a genuine issue in today’s workplace. If you’re missing out on home life, a social life or just general time to spend with loved ones – maybe it’s time to rethink how you‘re dividing your pie up too?
Here at Zestfor, we now offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your team. If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here.
Until next time,
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