Managing people is hard. It’s time consuming, frustrating, sometimes unrewarding, and certainly not for everyone. In many cases, it’s also unwanted.We’re often thrust into a management role because we’ve performed well in a frontlinesales, marketing, or other technical position, but we’re not given the training or support we need to be successful leading others.
Even worse, we’re reporting to a manager who has risen through the ranks for the same reasons, and isn’t particularly interested in managing us, or anyone else either.
At Core Leadership we coach, facilitate and train individuals to be great managers and leaders of others. The vast majority of our focus is on what great leadership looks like, how leaders should behave, and how to get the best out of staff. This might include listening fully, providing constructive feedback, displaying vulnerability and openness. The list of prerequisite behaviours and qualities goes on and on.
What we’ve noticed is that leaders don’t tend to focus on what not to do i.e. the behaviours to avoid. It’s almost as if it’s taboo to discuss the qualities and behaviours of ineffective or toxic managers. ‘Focus on the positive and ignore the negative’ is generally the approach taken.
This works well when managing toddlers, but with adults (particularly those with well established patterns of behaviour), it makes sense to also talk about the things that shouldn’t be done.
So, in no particular order, if you aspire to be a successful leader, stop doing the following:
Needing to always be right
We all know people who have a constant need to be right. Some of us are unfortunate enough to have managers with this need. They believe they have all the answers, they discount and belittle those who think differently or disagree with them, and most dangerous of all, they fall prey to ‘confirmation bias’, the tendency to seek out and view more favourably information that supports their views and discounts information that doesn’t.
How open are you to opposing views? How do you behave when your views are challenged?
Not displaying Integrity
Integrity, at its core, is aligning behaviour with values and principles. Managers who lack integrity say one thing, but then do another. They expect their staff to play by different rules to the ones they live by. They are often dishonest in what they say, and inconsistent in how they behave. Leaders lacking integrity are not trusted by those that report to them.
How aligned is your behaviour to your personal values?
Failing to clearly articulate goals and objectives, failing to listen, and not giving objective and constructive feedback – these are three of the most common communication mistakes in managers (from the point of view of their staff). When questioned, most employees want direction, they want to feel heard, and they want guidance and support in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
We all know we can improve our communication. What’s your biggest work-on?
Micromanagers need to be over everything, all the time. They can’t delegate projects or tasks to their staff without the need to check in regularly, and they have a need to be involved in all decisions made. Micromanaging is exhausting for the manager and disempowering for their staff. Over time employees become passive and reactive. They wait to be told what to do and how to behave.
Are you empowering your staff so that they’re able to show initiative and take appropriate risks?
Focusing on the Negative
Poor managers constantly pull their staff up for the things they do wrong, for the decisions they incorrectly make, and the actions they fail to take. Positive behaviour is, in the most part, ignored. Staff feel criticised and judged. They become afraid to make mistakes and voice opinions.
How could you be more encouraging and motivating of your staff?
So, if you take an honest look in the mirror (or are truly willing to take on board some developmental feedback), what are the biggest areas mentioned above that you need to pay attention to?