Everybody thinks they’re a leader – most are far from it. Like anything else, you can learn and practice effective leadership. While they are many paths to leadership, listed in this article are pitfalls ineffective leaders commonly find themselves in.
- You’re impassioned about your work and therefore your team.
“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis
Passion and zeal are infectious qualities and effective leaders know how to leverage them. By only focusing on the process rather than your team you fail to unlock the bond great teams share. It’s no secret that teams hit slumps quite often and impassioned leaders will find themselves frustrated. Frustration doesn’t run teams and neither do impassioned leaders. It’s you and your team against the world and not against each other.
- You’re not a role model
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams
Transformational leaders are greatly revered. People want to be them, learn from them or work for them. An effective leader exemplify’s the behaviours and characteristics they encourage in their teams. As a result, people admire them and aim to replicate their behaviours.
If you want to become a better leader, work on modelling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.
- You don’t listen thus communicate ineffectively
“When people talk, listen completely.” –Ernest Hemingway
You might have noticed that great leaders aren’t necessarily experts in their fields. Steve jobs was not a computer programmer, Elon musk is not an automotive engineer and Angela Merkel has a PhD in quantum chemistry. Leading is less about you’re acquired knowledge and more about getting people to apply theirs. Effective leaders communicate their visions to inspire their teams.
- You’re not clear about your expectations
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
Articulately communication your vision helps employees visualise the end goal. Your team can hardly track their progress if they don’t know where they’re headed. However, transformational leaders go beyond this and have their employees set clear goals serving the bigger vision. This way you can monitor progress and adjust their approach accordingly.
Ineffective leaders will usually expect their team to adopt an entirely proactive approach. This becomes a problem if one or more of them are unclear about your expectations therefore working towards a different goal.
- You don’t teach your team
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” -John F. Kennedy
While your team should be made up of qualified professionals, developing their skills even further is characteristic of an effective leader. If people gain nothing from working with you, how can you expect their full commitment? Companies are continually growing so why shouldn’t their employees. Let’s not forget that developing employees results in higher engagement levels and added value to teams.
Effective leaders don’t just bark orders but encourage growth by teaching. Teaching is essential in growing new leaders to take your place.
- You don’t know your own motivation
“If you’re not sure where you are going, you’re liable to end up someplace else.” — Robert F. Mager
If a leader views their role as “just a job”, it’s going to show. To be an effective leader, you need the right motivation. Truthfully, you can hardly expect to lead your team if you can’t lead yourself. So just as you would find out what motivates your team, perform a thorough self -examination. Channel the result and tie this into your vision.
- You don’t nurture talent
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” –Ralph Nader
If you’re intimidated by the talent around you, you’ll tend to work against it. Real leadership serves as a talent magnet. If you don’t attract talent, you can’t develop it and retain it. You’re competition probably can.
- You don’t give credit, you take it
“There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment.” – Orison Swett Marden
Effective leadership is hardly about the trophies on your shelf. Leadership is not about seeking the spotlight, and it should never be about the recognition. True leadership is about elevating others for their contributions, rather than crediting yourself. You’ll get a lot more out of your team being liberal with praise than selfish with it.
- You don’t get results
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” –John Maxwell
This is probably the biggest indicator of ineffective leadership. Where-in poor performance is influenced by the above-mentioned factors. When evaluating your skills, your results are the best place to start. Communicate with your team and get their take on what you can improve.
Do note, results are not necessarily achieved with good leadership. If you get your results by abusing your influence, manipulating or bullying your team – you’re ineffective. The ends do not justify the means. You’re career as a leader will likely end sooner than expected if you place optics over ethics.
If you want to be a good leader, work your team to their strengths and motivate them with your vision. Results will follow.
Having outlined the characteristics of an effective leader, fill in your own gaps and aim to put your team first. Do it right and you’ll see your effort reflected in the results.