LEADERSHIP—What Works and What Doesn’t!

As I work with leaders, managers and supervisors around the world, I keep running into the same four leadership styles. One is amazingly effective and promotes a healthy, productive environment and the other three? Well they do exactly the opposite. They create havoc. Lack of motivation. Disruption. Teams that can’t work together. Low productivity. Resistance to change. And high turnover.

Let’s take a look at what DOESN”T work first.

Number one: The micro-manager. You know the type. Overachieving, wants to win, highly competitive. In themselves none of those three things are bad. But here’s what happens. The micro-manager is so busy hovering, manipulating, reminding, pressing, and doing things themselves, they lose the ability to create bench strength within their team. The employees don’t take responsibility because the micro-manager is right there to remind them or do for them. And here’s the other thing that gets missed. The employees never get a chance to explore who they are, to be creative, to fine tune or showcase their skills and talents. There’s just no room. Plus the typical micro-manager is quick to place blame and not so quick to compliment and encourage. So what happens when the manager is out for a week? There’s no one to step up to the plate-right? Because they haven’t created healthy, confident, pro-active risk takers in their teams who are willing to step into leadership roles and responsibilities. And when that happens? Everyone loses. People need a safe environment to try new things. Share ideas. Take risks. That’s how you create a great team.

Number two: Most wouldn’t on the surface find this person a BAD leader – but hear me out. I’m talking about the REALLY NICE leader. The one who hates confrontation. Doesn’t want to make anyone upset. Can’t make a decision. Is unable to have really crucial discussions about performance. Becomes everyone’s therapist, parent, friend—everything but the leader they need to be. The one who knows everything about everybody. Who’s divorcing, who’s sick, and who has kids that are giving them a hard time. They’re very motivational, involved, and eager to offer incentives. Not all bad traits. But here’s how this goes south. Because there are no repercussions, no consequences, no boundaries, they get dumped on. People take advantage. And marginal employees are allowed to slip by while the top producing employees pick up the slack (and resenting their job more and more every day!). People need fair boundaries, fair consequences and standards to live by. That’s how they grow. They how they get better. That’s how they learn. And that’s how you create a great team.

Number three—the absentee leader. This leader is so enmeshed in their own work that they pay little, if any attention, to their employees. There’s no coaching. No mentoring. No teaching. Definitely no role modeling. Employees are pretty well expected to fend for themselves. At performance appraisal time, the employee may finally hear what it is they have or haven’t done to deserve a raise or promotion—but there was no attempt throughout the year to help them grow, learn and thrive on their job. Leadership is there in name only and does not contribute in any way to their long-term personal development on the job.

Now let’s get to the really GOOD – no UNBELIEVABLY GREAT management style. The folks that are willing to let go of a little ego to help grow people. The ones that challenge their team. Invite creativity and collaboration. Who let people take risks. Who mentor, coach, cheer, and train. But who also set boundaries, limits, expectations, and consequences. The ones who are there as living role models for how to successfully lead a team. It’s a fine line to walk when you are a leader. Caring, but firm. Open to ideas but not afraid to make a decision. Understanding, but committed to doing what’s right. Allowing leeway, but maintaining high standards. Knowing when to mentor and when to let go. Offering incentives while setting high expectations. Showing them how to do the job better, but not doing it for them. Complimenting when the time is right but having crucial conversations when necessary.

No matter what kind of leader you are—YOU WILL AFFECT YOUR TEAM”S ABILITY TO PRODUCE, COLLABORATE, PROVIDE SERVICE, DEAL WITH CUSTOMERS AND CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR ORGANIZATIONS GROWTH AND ROFITABILITY. The question is what path will your specific leadership style take them?

How to Turn Limitations Into Strengths

So it’s a no brainer that we need to leverage our strengths. If…we even know what they are. Unfortunately most people are so focused on what they can’t do or wish they could do, that they don’t even take time to realize what they can bring to the table. So step one. Figure out exactly what it is you do really well. And be proud of it. Let people know about it. Find ways to bring those talents into your job. Your relationships. Your quest for success. Even your health.

Here’s a tip: Don‘t wait for people to recognize and acknowledge what you do that’s awesome. Believe me, they are too busy with their own stuff to even realize what you are doing—they are just trying to survive in a crazy, insane world. You have got to be your own best friend when it comes to spreading the word that what YOU do is vital and brings added value to the situation.

Now to the topic at hand — limitations. We all have them. No matter how hard we try to ignore them. Rationalize them. Blame our parents for them. Make excuses for them (not our fault we do this!). And even justify them (I was just born this way—can’t help it). Bottom line: limitations have to be recognized and accounted for—no way out of this one—IF…you truly want to be happy and successful. The worst thing you can do is act like they don’t exist or defend why you have them. Let’s play instead by grown up rules. Step one, we own our limitations and then we strategically plan how we can change them, fix them, improve them, get rid of them, live with them or, even better yet, see if there are any that you just might be able to turn into strengths.

“How is that even possible?” you are saying. Well take me for example. I was always getting into trouble in high school. Got kicked out of class more times that I can count. Why? Ha! For talking of course! More than one teacher told me I would never amount to anything because I couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. Lack of attention span and constant talking were two huge limitations—both contributing to my lack of success in school. Until…another teacher figured out how to turn my “weaknesses” into strengths. He signed me up for the speech and debate teams. Within a year I was excelling in school and leading the debate team in first place wins. Turns out, what was a limitation in one situation turned out to be a strength in high demand in another.

How about you? Do you have any imitations that could be viewed as strengths if the situation were different? Think about it. You might be surprised at a few things you do that seem to be keeping you back that just might work to your advantage if you used them differently. It is definitely worth a try.

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