I’ve written a number of articles on this blog about what it takes to be a successful, effective leader. This time, I’ll explore the opposite side of leadership, the things you need to avoid as an aspiring leader. To avoid killing your credibility as a leader and losing your team, make sure you aren’t doing these four things.
It’s human nature to connect with some people more than we do others. To be an effective leader, however, it’s critical to take steps to ensure this doesn’t lead to playing favorites. If your team notices select people get away with certain actions when others are frowned upon for doing the same, they’ll begin to talk. Once the talking begins, it can be quite a challenge to make it stop.
Not only can the chatter lead to a lack of respect for you as a leader, it can also pit team members against one another. The resentment caused by the perception of favoritism can lead to lack of productivity as your team takes sides and their ability to work smoothly together suffers.
Waiver on Decisions
Being decisive is another key component of being a good leader. It’s important that your team respects your decision making, so when you go back and forth and waiver on your decisions, it can create the impression that you don’t know what you’re doing or you aren’t willing to take a stand on critical issues.
Good leaders are able to make the tough decisions, even when faced with the most difficult choices. If you waiver on your decisions, especially on decisions that should be simple and straight forward, you can lose your team fairly quickly.
Talk Poorly About Team Members
Have you ever bashed one of your direct reports to one of that team member’s peers? Hopefully you answered ‘no.’ No matter what kind of issues a team member is causing or how mutually disliked that person may be among their peers, as a leader, you should never talk poorly about any team members behind their back.
Aside from simply being the wrong thing to do, talking behind the backs of your team can create a negative impression of your loyalty to the team. The person you are talking to may even be in agreement, but inside their head that person is likely listening to your rant and wondering what you say about them when they aren’t in the room.
Always Shift Blame
Some leaders feel like admitting when they are wrong makes them look weak. In reality, the opposite is often true. If you constantly shift blame to your team, they will quickly realize where they stand and their loyalty to you as a leader will disappear.
A little humility goes a long way. When you mess up, own up to it. Never shift the blame to your team. Stand up for your team when the need arises, and always be prepared to admit when you’re wrong and move to make positive changes rather than throwing the blame all around the room and hoping it sticks.
Avoiding these four things can help position you for success as a leader. Failing to avoid them, however, can lead to an untimely demise for your leadership tenure.
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