Your Leadership Style: Self AssessmentNo matter how objective we think we are about our performance as a leader, it is still possible to misjudge the nature of the impact of our leadership style upon the team. It is these kinds of discrepancies in perception that can get you into a lot of trouble if they are not identified and corrected.
One of the most common misunderstandings occurs because otherwise well-intentioned leaders can unconsciously intimidate those around them. This can happen accidentally, but also when a busy boss sidesteps common courtesy for the sake of expediency.
If you are concerned that your leadership style may not be a fair reflection of your leadership abilities, check through these warning signs:
1. Bad news. Do you learn about it too late to take meaningful action? Or do you only hear partial truths that obscure the true extent of the damage? Either way, your team is more anxious about your reactions than they are about the impact of the bad news. If you genuinely want to know the truth, you must show that you can handle hearing it. The next time a team member alerts you to danger, remind yourself that the bad news is not the issue, what you are going to do about it is what matters.
Once your team can trust you to react constructively to bad news, you will not only increase the flow of timely information through the department, you will also create an environment in which people will learn from their mistakes instead of covering them up.
2. Creative thinking. How many original ideas have you received from the team recently? Are brainstorming meetings exciting and challenging? Or do your people simply wait to hear what you have decided?
If your department is suffering from creative stagnation, don’t be too hasty to blame your people. Instead, look first at how you “lead” the problem-solving process. Are you sure your team feels comfortable enough to contribute their ideas without fear of you second-guessing or stifling them? To find out, pay particular attention to whom contributes during your next meeting – but remember that a lack of input does not necessarily indicate a lack of ideas.
3. Sycophancy. Is that the sound of genuine adoration you hear? Perhaps not. It can be painful to learn that what you thought of as bona fide respect is nothing more than the shallow flattery that your team thinks you want – or maybe need – to hear.
If you have the courage, activate your reality meter (but try not to be over-cynical). Listen carefully to see if you have – unintentionally – nurtured the impression that fawning over the boss is expected. If your meter registers positive, working on creating a new impression immediately so that your employees are not wasting energy on stroking your ego they should be exerting on business results.
It is no longer enough to simply be in charge. Today’s leaders need a delicate touch and a reasoned understanding of how to balance the talents, personalities and motivators of team members in order to generate the results the company needs. When employees are dedicating too much time to coping with the traits and quirks of their leader, they are commensurately less effective at doing the job they are paid to do.
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