Every now and then, I’m reminded of timeless leadership lessons that countless books and research studies have told us over several decades about what good leaders do and don’t do.
Just when I think we’ve turned the corner, I observe yet another downfall from either a client in a management role or a leader in the public-eye being called to the carpet in the media. Usually, the mistakes are costly, and all of them could’ve been avoided.
But eventually, the buck needs to stop somewhere. Why not now? Here are 6 habits that you, the leader, can zap into oblivion once and for all.
1. Stop gossiping
Think this toxic behavior doesn’t damage the work environment? Some negative consequences of leaders who gossip include:
- Gradual decline of trust and morale.
- Work productivity goes down because people are emotionally caught up in the manager’s drama, thus wasting precious company time.
- Anxiety and tension are high as rumors circulate and people walk on eggshells without knowing what is and isn’t fact.
- Divisiveness as people take sides.
- Unexpected turnover and loss of good talent who left due to the toxic work environment.
2. Stop judging others
Leaders that judge others like a sport shouldn’t expect their employees to come to them for advice or problem-solving. What a judgmental attitude will do is alienate people and create a toxic environment. If this is you, your best plan of action is to stop jumping to conclusions before hearing all the facts, and start listening intently to improve your communication skills. Do this and your workers will slowly gravitate toward you as you make it safe for them to do so.
3. Stop hiding behind a mask
People want their managers to be real with them. Display authenticity, be transparent, exercise good self-awareness (understanding yourself and others), and be open to input from others, even those below you. This is not eating humble pie. It’s showing up in all your courage and leadership strength by have emotional honesty running through your veins.
4. Stop with the “it’s all about me” attitude
The type of leaders that operate from hubris are only thinking about themselves and their own needs. They typically don’t care about the things that matter to their colleagues or subordinates, and will probably get defensive when being confronted. Don’t expect an apology when you’re wronged. If this narcissistic behavior persists, address it soon through the proper channels to see how he or she responds.
5. Stop ignoring your people (and start recognizing them)
If you think praising employees has no strategic value, you underestimate the power that comes from recognizing them, especially your high performers. In fact, The Gallup Organization has surveyed more than 4 million employees worldwide on this topic. They found that people who receive regular recognition and praise…
- increase their individual productivity.
- increase engagement among their colleagues.
- are more likely to stay with their organization.
- receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
- have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job.
6. Stop leading from a position of power or ego
Hubris is the cause of much conflict. In fact, know-it-all managers who think they have the best ideas and information, and use it to wield power or control over people, typically destroy morale. The general feeling of employees in one survey I conducted points to managers who aren’t able to “own” being wrong or handle being wrong properly.
OK, these can be challenging hills to climb for some in management roles. The first step is to always acknowledge that this is a current reality. Perhaps initiating honest conversations with trusted peers who see the damage being done from the periphery should be your first move before a 360-degree feedback process or employee opinion survey takes place.
This may have been a tough article to swallow, but take the higher road: Ask yourself the obvious look-in-mirror question, “Which of these can I commit to stop doing, so my whole team benefits from some new habits?”
This article was originally written by Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, a leading provider of servant-leadership training and coaching designed to create healthy, engaged and profitable work cultures.