Great leaders do two things: 1) They lead themselves well, modeling what they wish others would do. 2) They inspire others to achieve more than they ever imagined possible.
Everyone has the opportunity to lead because leadership is much more than a title! If you’ve ever worked with children, you know that many of them can take over a class or persuade other children to follow their lead. Sometimes they even gain more followers than the adult in charge! That just goes to show you that leadership has nothing to do with a title.
While there are some terrible leaders out there with selfish ambitions, the majority of the time leaders mean well, yet they engage in behaviors that hold others back in significant ways. That’s true for the C suite leader, the manager, the business owner, the parent (yes, they are most definitely leaders!), and those unofficial leaders that just wish to make a difference in the lives of others.
You might mean well, but your leadership style might be inadvertently hurting your team or those you have the opportunity to influence. Could you be one of these kinds of leaders and inadvertently limiting the capacity of your people?
1. The Speed Demon
The Good Intention: To model quality and high standards – set the bar high.
The Trouble: Their people often can’t keep up with the speed or the standard they are setting. It doesn’t take long before their people give up and resort to being a spectator instead of a participant.
The Solution: Regularly look in the rear view mirror and make adjustments when you see that your people are lagging behind. If you’ve ever tried to follow a speed demon on the road while driving to a destination, you know how frustrating this can be. It gets even more frustrating when you are unable to keep up and end up completely lost. Thank heavens most of us can resort to the map app on our phones in these situations, but there’s no app to help you keep up with a Speed Demon leader!
2. The Protector
The Good Intention: To protect their people from the political intricacies in the organization.
The Trouble: People are ill equipped and inexperienced in dealing with political issues.
The Solution: Allow your people to experience the hard stuff – the politics, negative influences, etc. in manageable doses so that they gain strength and learn from their mistakes. They will feel the pinch without being completely destroyed.
Think helicopter parents – the ones hovering or stepping in to “protect” their children from anything challenging. They mean well, but ultimately they are limiting their children’s ability to prepare and move into adulthood. In the same way, the hard stuff prepares your people for what’s ahead in your organization.
3. The Perfectionist
The Good Intention: To help people perform and their best so that they generate exceptional work.
The Trouble: People feel like their work never measures up and that they are perpetually criticized. Pretty soon their people are discouraged and don’t bother trying.
The Solution: Set clear expectations for what excellence looks like up front so your people know what they are shooting for. This means that you have to communicate very clearly up front, but when you do, it allows you to give your people a chance to assess their work based on those standards rather than you highlighting the issues. Most of the time, people are well aware of the areas that need improving without you highlighting it. If you aren’t getting the results you’re after, consider improving how you communicate.
4. The Idea Generator
The Good Intention: To use their overflowing creativity and innovation to inspire others.
The Trouble: The volume of ideas can be overwhelming, especially if you are the one who must flesh out all the many details it takes to make an idea happen. A plethora of ideas can also dilute the focus, leaving people unsure which idea to put their energy into.
The Solution: Sensor yourself! As the ideas come, don’t let them slip away. Write them down. Then, ask yourself “Is this is an idea that I want to intentionally pursue right now? Is something to pursue later? Or is it an idea to simply keep to yourself?” Your people will appreciate a more focused approach. And they will grow from having to come up with some ideas or solutions on their own.
5. The Optimist
The Good Intention: They want their team to believe that anything is possible – they can do it!
The Trouble: People under The Optimist can feel like their problems or challenges are minimized, that their struggles are not appreciated or that their fear of failing is real.
The Solution: Take concerns seriously and acknowledge them not only at the beginning, but along the way. Let your people know you recognize the difficulty of the work and that you realize that success is not guaranteed.
6. The Rapid Responder
The Good Intention: To address issues quickly and to lead with agility. That’s why they solve problems and make decisions on the spot so that the organization can move forward swiftly.
The Trouble: Their quick decisions can actually gum up the works. While they move fast, they can jump in too soon not allowing their people the chance to deal with the issues themselves.
The Solution: Slow down! Give your people more time to respond. You may even wish to implement a set waiting time. Giving your people a chance to deal with issues allows you more time to focus on other things and allows them to stretch and grow.
7. The Always On
The Good Intention: To stir up energy and enthusiasm. After all energy begets energy!
The Trouble: Not only do you wear people out and take up a whole lot of space, but after a while people are so drained by you that they stop listening.
The Solution: While you may be naturally charismatic, keep tabs on yourself – talk less, stop repeating yourself, and listen more. Get more comfortable with silence. Make space for others to speak up and share!
8. The Big Thinker
The Good Intention: To compel people to move to the next level – to strive to embrace the vision for the future!
The Trouble: You cast the vision in such detail that your team doesn’t have the chance to buy into the vision. As a result, they end up skeptical.
The Solution: What questions can you ask your team to get them thinking in big ways?
Let your team participate in creating the strategy. You may have the “why” and “what” but let them help you come up with the “how’. This goes a long way towards getting buy in and ultimately will lead to an even better strategy!
9. The Rescuer
The Good Intention: You want those you lead to be successful and to ensure that they have a stellar reputation.
The Trouble: People become dependent on you because they don’t learn the skills needed which ultimately weakens their reputation.
The Solution: Rather than immediately solving their problem for them, coach them through the process and draw out the solution. This takes more time, but is a much longer term solution like teaching someone to fish versus handing them a fish.
It’s easy to spot how other people’s leadership skills are affecting their team teams in ways that are less than beneficial. It can be much more difficult to spot those traits in yourself. Trust me, your people know – your team, your kids, your friends.
What changes do you need to make to love and lead more effectively?
The concepts shared are inspired by Liz Wiseman’s ideas described in Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.
© Can Stock Photo / chandlervid85