Leadership Traps To Avoid

Leaders can inadvertently fall into traps that cause them difficulties

The pressures on leaders can be great with expectations of never ending success and constant profits and growth. It can be all too easy to remain focused on such objectives and forget that their delivery is only achieved via the efforts of an entire team or workforce. Leaders can, on occasions, fall into traps they need reminding of every now and again.

Pretending You Know It All

People in a leadership position are highly likely to be able to offer an opinion on many, if not most aspects of a business. While it is good that they are able to keep abreast of all areas an over-enthusiasm to express opinions or get involved in decisions they don’t really need to starts to send out the wrong signals to others. Such a leader will start to get consulted on subjects that should be dealt with as part of normal business by their team. This can be an unconscious decision on behalf of team members unless it is recognized and stopped it will lead to the leader being completely over-whelmed and everyone else feeling as though the word delegation doesn’t exist in their workplace.

Assuming Silence Is Acceptance

Whether at presentations, board meetings or in less formal conversations what any leader really wants is intelligent dialogue and discussion. There are of course occasions when this is not the case and team members have to listen and get on with things but in reality that is the exception not the rule. If a leader is not getting constructive feedback and dialogue then they need to think why this might be the case. Assuming that everyone agrees with what you are saying or suggesting is naïve, if not arrogant in the extreme, and perhaps indicative of issues that need sorting. Consider what the reasons might be for why there is no dialogue: it could be down to the leader’s style not encouraging engagement or the setting for the communication.

Issuing Instructions and Moving On

One of the roles of a leader is to be constantly forward looking. They are trying to figure out how the marketplace might look like in future years so that their offerings can be evolved accordingly. How a leader balances their strategic looking ahead with the day-to-day operations of running a business and ensuring it makes it into the future is a careful balancing act. In considering what is needed for success in the future a leader makes decisions on what needs to happen now which is often a change of some description. They will announce what needs to be done and expect it to happen without keeping tabs on its implementation because they will be back looking at other matters that need their attention. Now it could be argued that delegating such implementations is what any leader and manager would want but delegation requires oversight and sponsorship, not isolation.

Focusing on Customers at Expense of Team

All leaders know that they and their team or business need to keep customers and clients happy in order to survive and prosper. Whether customers are internal or external, and here I include shareholders, part of that ‘keeping happy’ is maintaining communications of what is going on and what is coming up in the future. Providing that bridge between the business and customers is key especially in helping determine the way forward. The leader needs to judge just how much of their valuable time is spent on this compared to how much is spent on the business of today. After all, it is the success of the business of today that keeps customers happy and allows the leader to plan for the future.

Talking But Not Listening

It can be very tempting for people in positions of authority to talk and talk and talk on subjects they have a passion for: their business, the way forward, the marketplace, anything in fact. If, however, they continue to talk to anyone who will listen (and sometimes people have to listen to their boss whether they like to or not) but fail to listen to what is coming back to them they are missing the opportunity to gather vital intelligence on what matters to them most – their business.

So take some time to reflect on things… 

Stepping back and taking a short while to reflect on how they are operating as individuals is all that is needed for leaders to assess just how effective they are and whether they have fallen into any of these traps. This can be done on their own or together with a coach to help guide them.

If they have fallen into one of these traps, or any others for that matter, they need to make some conscious changes to the way they operate. Providing the leader has the self-discipline to continuously review their own evolving behaviour they can move forward on their own but this could well be when they want to work with a coach.

Picture courtesy of HikingArtist.com


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