Habits that do your leadership style more harm than good

22 May 2018

We all want our companies to be faster, better and more profitable. That’s the nature of business. As a professional, leader or executive, efficiency isn’t just a skill, it’s a requirement.

As you gained more experience, you may have acquired tricks to help you become more effective. However, the habits that you think are serving you may actually be doing the opposite.

Here are three habits that are doing more harm than good.

You’re multi-tasking

For some reason, our culture admires people who can do more than one thing at the same time. It’s almost become a characteristic to brag about, as if being able to sit in on a meeting while answering emails and signing contracts is a good thing. Well, it’s not.

When you’re giving 30 per cent of your attention to one task, there’s a correspondingly huge chance things will go wrong. You’re not listening intently, reading documents thoroughly or paying attention to whom you’re emailing. This does not make you a good leader; it makes you subject to error.

And you can bet it frustrates those around you. We all know how annoying it can be when you’re trying to have a conversation with your spouse or your kids, only to have their faces buried in their phones, throwing in the odd “uh huh” to make it appear like they know what you’re saying.

You’ll be a much better leader if you tackle one thing at a time. If you’re in a meeting, be at the meeting. If you’re reading memos, give them undivided attention. Put your phone in your bag and close your office door so you don’t get distracted.

You’re “sooo busy”

We get it, you’re busy. But guess what? So is everyone else. Don’t let your schedule become an excuse as to why you’re moody, late or simply not present.

If your day starts with 8 a.m. meetings and ends with a 10 p.m. conference call, something’s got to give. Existing on a few hours of sleep isn’t sustainable. And it’s certainly not making you better at your job.

We all have personal and professional commitments that take up every spare second. Complaining about it is not going to fix the issue.

Stop concentrating on how busy or overwhelmed you’re feeling and do something about it. Delegate. This may mean you have to hire new staff, or assign new projects to current employees. Whatever it is, it’s time to start trusting others to tackle your to-do list.

You’re trying too hard

There’s a lot of pressure for organizations to provide that cool factor to their employees. Whether it’s unlimited vacation or an in-house chef, many are trying to find that competitive edge to attract and retain top talent.

A company’s culture and leadership style are two factors that candidates care about, often more than their salary. As a result, leaders tear down office walls, sit with their colleagues at the lunch table and remove all signs of the slightest hierarchical structure.

While there’s nothing wrong with forgoing the cubicle), you also don’t want to come across as inauthentic. It’s more important that your employees respect you and are inspired by you. They don’t have to hang out with you.

Making light conversation about weekend plans is totally acceptable; inviting yourself to them is not. Remember, you are their boss. At the end of the day, you have to be able to give them critical feedback and keep them accountable.


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