And how to eliminate them
Although during my college years I’ve been among the list of ambitious people, I still never considered leadership to be as important as I feel it is nowadays. You may wonder: “What changed this?”
Knowledge comes with experience. I eventually learned that unless you live on a desert island, with no human beings around, leadership is a topic which affects all of us. And that is a good thing, for when humans welcome leadership, we take a collective and shared responsibility of the environment we are in, regardless if this is our work environment or personal area.
It is highly essential for effective leadership to acquire this shared responsibility. In this way we lessen its burden. Although the fun part of leadership may be that it provides us with possibilities and the ability to learn and grow, the difficult parts can’t remain hidden.
The truth also is, sometimes reading articles on how great leadership is and how managers should grow their potential, doesn’t give me such a great feeling on leadership. It’s not only up to the manager to do all the work, you know.
Imagine a work environment where leadership only applies for the staff management. What do we teach our society with this mentality? We eventually decrease the potential to grow towards its excellence.
Besides the above-mentioned insight, I also came across the following hard challenges of effective leadership during my observations:
On top I would list intimidating behaviour. Especially the overlooked form of intimidation: underperforming employees with intimidating behaviour such as:
- Resistance to learn and resistance to follow the company protocols
- Resistance to adapt to the team structure
- Lying and arrogant behaviour towards staff, customers and co-workers
Please read this article for more information, it goes in depth what I mean by this: ‘How to deal effectively with intimidating behaviour — Conflict & Confrontation’.
2. Cutting budget on time and training
A serious problem would definitely be companies not investing in quality. I can understand the decisions of companies when they cut on budget. But though companies might believe a decrease in hitting targets is an external problem while lowering the budget, internal factors should not be overlooked.
Take Annie, an empathic and friendly manager, but unskilled with multitasking. Annie just needs some structural training to develop her skills, but because the company is convinced the targets are being missed due to external factors, the company is reducing the budget. While in reality not everyone can lead immediately or without consistent training.
3. There is a vague description of the norms and values of the company
Have you seen these lists hanging on the walls within office lunchrooms?
“We are empathic and friendly to our customers.”
“We do whatever we can to make the customer happy.”
Sorry, these are too abstract. Because, what do you mean by this? My definition of “empathic” may differ from yours. The way I do everything to make the customer happy may not go as far as yours.
I would rather see a clear statement or guide explaining the meaning of the definitions.
4. Don’t burden your staff management too much
We always focus on what managers should provide for their environment to grow best. And although this is true, be aware that people come from different cultures and backgrounds. People always bring to the table a part of how they are raised. And the behaviour that comes along with it is not something we are fully responsible for.
You can have the greatest manager, but when he has to lead an overly diverse team, leadership may become a burden.
In other words: if the differences among people do not unite us, tension within work environments increase and measures have to be taken.
5. A misconception that leadership is only for staff management
If I’ve learned anything on the topic of leadership, it’s that the biggest mistake would be to limit leadership only for staff management. Because what will happen when the staff management has a day off from work, or is absent because of emerging circumstances? Well, the workday can become a total disaster when employees don’t know how to perform at their best without supervision.
Introducing leadership to every person who is involved in the environment is a simple and free solution and applying it should be a company’s norm.
6. Select your best team first
Recruitment is a difficult task. I’m still surprised how people can seem the best employees during the first week of their trial, only to notice after a few weeks they can have drastic differences with the company values. Recruitment should not be limited to the direct supervision. It should be discussed regularly to check if there is a healthy and productive work environment within the selected team.
7. Hire and fire
Be just, help people and assist them to help them growing. Give people a chance to understand your company’s work values first, but when people can’t adapt, despite your efforts, don’t offer them a contract.
A company is not a social work place for 2–3 hours a day, where people have all kinds of serious problems. Not taking social jobs very seriously is understandable. But this is not the case at a growing company.
It is not always our fault as a manger if this person is not adapting. And we certainly don’t need to visit some positive mindset guru who will tell us that we need to develop ourselves as a manager.
Please, fire them. Just do it.
Last but not least
I’m aware there are highly advanced companies which will most certainly be an absolute pleasure to work for with less problems. But unfortunately, at the same time not all companies have reached this peak. At some point we may conclude that this is normal, because just as a problem-free life doesn’t exist, a work environment excluding problems is delusional as well.
And although leadership goes further and the list above is non-exhaustive, these seven elements are challenging more than enough.