There are all types of websites and blogs devoted to the behaviors of a great workplace leader. These websites inform a workplace leader such things as the importance of effective communication or leading by example.
But what about the behaviors one must avoid to become a true workplace leader?
There is quite a distinction between a workplace manager and a workplace leader, a boss and a visionary, a supervisor and an inspiration. To be considered someone who fits into the latter descriptions (leader, visionary, inspiration) avoid these leadership pitfalls.
Six Mistakes That Undermine a Workplace Leader
The Pretend Expert
A true leader does not attempt to know more than the topic experts, e.g. computer programmer, HR specialist, who report to her.
A manager who is not a true leader may pretend to know things for the sake of looking knowledgeable. This practice undercuts her authority.
In One thing great leaders never do, Marshall Goldsmith provides a perfect example:
“When someone comes to you with an idea, and rather than say good idea, you say, ‘Why don’t you add this?’ or ‘Why don’t you do that?’ you take ownership of the idea. Your input makes it your idea and it is no longer their idea.”
The Painful “Good Morning”
Do you have a boss that is not a morning person? Do you have a boss that says hello only when he is in a good mood?
A leader never acts as if greeting co-workers is something that puts him out. Saying “good morning” or “hello” may seem like a trivial matter, but it is a simple form of etiquette to acknowledge someone’s presence. Workplace leaders always greet team members regardless of the time of day or the leader’s mood.
I Am the Boss
If a manager ever has to bring up her authority, in a way, she immediately loses authority in the eyes of her staff. A great workplace leader knows she must earn leadership. In essence, employees are the ultimate arbiters of who is simply a manager and who is a leader.
Woe Is Me
It is lonely in positions of power. The higher you rise, the lonelier it tends to feel.
Good leaders understand this. Therefore, they will not allow themselves to feel sorry for their situation. Wallowing in self-pity, especially in front of your staff, is a form of victimhood. Team members expect leaders to be the captains of their destiny.
The power of praise is immense. Good workplace leaders understand this inherently. However, they pick and choose the best times to praise.
Overpraise is counterproductive. It is akin to providing your children an allowance for doing chores that should be expected of all family members. Before you know it, children expect money for everything they are asked to do.
If you praise your staff for completing standard job duties, they may never strive above and beyond their job description. Holding onto praise for duties done exceptionally, rather than well, continually moves the bar of excellence upward.
I Don’t Have the Time for This
As leaders move up the ladder, tasks multiply. Therefore, it becomes tempting to dismiss interaction with employees because of time constraints.
True leaders will always carve out time for their staff. They know that employees only need to be sent away from the boss a couple of times before they stop asking for what’s on their minds.
Mutually Beneficial Relationships
True workplace leadership requires a reciprocal dynamic between manager and staff. Managers attempt to provide the resources for each staff member to succeed at their job. They provide these resources on top of their daily duties.
And excellent employees understand that one of their objectives is to help the manager succeed (on top of their daily duties).
Managers that understand this relationship are more likely to become leaders.