An Blank Allows Data To Flow From Your Program F Stands For Five Fatal Leadership Flaws and How to Correct Them

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F Stands For Five Fatal Leadership Flaws and How to Correct Them

I want to preface this article by saying that I will be the first to admit that being a leader is very difficult, especially considering the state of our economy, the job of letting employees go, and the speed at which change is occurring. And…I have my fair share of faults too.

However, even in difficult times, it is important for leaders to take a step back and evaluate their leadership skills. And, it’s not really for a leader. It is the job of board members, employees and the executive team to spend time providing feedback (a 360 degree review or 360 interview) so that the leader gets a clear picture of how he is perceived. And…trust me, 99% of a leader’s day is spent “managing the perceptions” of others. If there’s a perception that you don’t walk your talk or don’t have great people skills, that’s the perception from which you should start a rigorous personal and leadership development plan. And, if you don’t pay attention to your faults, You can get yourself hooked in a heartbeat! (Yes…I know we all want to focus on strengths, but when it comes to leadership, you need to address the leadership elephant in the room, or you’ll spend your days watching your best talent come in- the revolving door.)

So, today in this blog, I’m going to lay out the five fatal flaws I see leaders living in that can quickly derail a leader, lose credibility, and at the end of the day… destroy a company or organization.

Fatal Flaw No. 1: Indecisiveness. I see this everyday… a leader is at the top of the decision tree and she is stuck… completely stuck! She spends her days on e-mail, putting out fires and gathering more data to delay a decision. At the end of the day, this leader is usually afraid to make a decision that will bring the company down. In my work as a leadership coach, while bad decisions happen all the time, the worst mistake is indecisiveness. Through action, you can see what works and what doesn’t. If you surround yourself with smart people, you’ll be able to change direction quickly if you need to, but the goal here is MOVE! Law!

Solution: Work with an executive coach to identify leadership qualities that can get in the way of decision-making and begin working on a decision-enhancing program. With this approach, you take a big decision, break it down into smaller decisions, and start taking action. As you act, you will receive feedback…both good and bad, and through this process, you can begin to become more tolerant of the “heat” and decision-making process that will eventually unfold. The problem with decision making is always trying to make a big decision and just hoping and praying that you “get it right”. Every big decision has many parts, and you have to start somewhere, get feedback, and then move on to the next step, then the next step. Once you make many small decisions, the big decision will be completed.

Fatal Flaw No. 2: Arrogance. I want to clarify something. I believe that leadership in today’s world requires a bit of ego. It’s important to make your followers feel like you’re capable, strong, and have strong, solid ideas. What I’m talking about here is a leader who:

  • Always thinks he has the best answer
  • Discounts and dismisses the opinions of others (including rookies on the team).
  • He thinks he is better looking, smarter and more knowledgeable than others
  • Is cold, distant and isolated
  • Makes others feel less or inferior
  • Creates space and distance between yourself and anyone who doesn’t “measure up” (which, trust me…in the mind of a proud leader, it’s for everyone!).

Solution: Spend an hour every day inviting people from every level of your company into your office and letting them talk without interruption. Think through their ideas and find ways to implement some small ideas along the way. This could be anything… from using different cups at the water fountain to implementing a brand new marketing strategy. The goal here is to open up the gap and become more accessible. If you are an arrogant leader, this approach will take time. People will say “What’s going on here? Our CEO never cared about our opinions or took the time to talk to us” but, when practiced and implemented over time (and you should stick with it!), it’s a big step in a better direction. Your employees will appreciate you for being prepared.

Deadly Flaw No. 3: Pointing Fingers. In leadership, we talk about blame, finger-pointing, and irresponsibility every day, but it keeps happening…over and over again, leaders want to make excuses for why the ball was dropped, why customers aren’t happy, or why leadership isn’t there. The team is spending four hours a day on Facebook and Twitter. He rationalizes his failures and is certainly not open to feedback or criticism… because “the dog ate my homework” or… the real problem is Susan in HR.

Let me be clear…stuff (I’ll use another word, but I’ll let you fill in the blanks) doesn’t flow upwards…it flows downstream. If your company has a problem, it’s time to wake up, look in the mirror and ask yourself “What am I doing or not doing that is perpetuating this problem?”

Solution: Sign an accountability agreement with yourself and your executive team. Vow to “take responsibility” when something goes wrong. When a problem arises, admit it openly: “We have x problem, and I’m going to take heat here… I didn’t do x, and it’s time to fix it… starting today, and I need your help.” On the same note, watch your body language (blank stares, pencil tapping, furrowed brows, non-stop nodding while the person is talking.) Sit quietly and listen to the problem…probe deeper with more questions, and for god’s sake, say a word about it. Don’t “Okay… this is what’s going on… it’s over!” (Accounting is always to blame for everything, so stop blaming your poor accountant for your mistakes!)

Fatal Flaw No. 4: Lack of vision. It’s really hard, because many leaders don’t have a visionary bone in their body… they can’t see the big picture, they can’t put the puzzle together so that the vision unfolds. And they are honestly more tactical than strategic. Check out this picture to the right… Can you imagine driving blindfolded? It’s a scary thought, but that’s what followers feel when a leader is leading their company without being able to see where they’re going. So, what happens? At the end of the day, the leader becomes more like a task master…he starts micro-managing, completing tasks that others should do, or worse…he starts down a path that has nothing. To create a vision for the company.

I recently met a CEO who I believe is more of a motivational speaker than a leader. He spends his time talking to others about leadership and management when his company is clearly in the red. The time he’s spending speaking to organizations on leadership could be better invested in creating a vision and strategy for his team to go from red to black, but this convenient diversion is what he needs to boost his ego (just my opinion, by the way!) If he really wants to be a motivational speaker, So be it…but focusing on motivational speaking is reducing the time it takes to solve a problem.

Solution: Sit down with your core leadership team and create a compelling vision for your company for the year ahead. This vision must be full of passion and direction and must be very short. It has to be big…and a little scary (I think Jim Collins and Jerry Porras call it BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!) Once that vision statement is created, it starts living, eating and breathing it. It’s time to do it!

As an example, here is McDonald’s vision statement:

“McDonald’s vision is the best quick service restaurant experience in the world. To be the best means to provide superior quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”

So, whether or not you care about McDonald’s is irrelevant here… what is relevant is that they didn’t say “we want to be a good quick service restaurant”. They said they wanted to be “the best quick service restaurant experience in the world.” And, this is evident every time I drive by a McDonald’s. Lines 8, 10, 12, 2, 4 and beyond wrap around the building. And, while some aren’t always clean, most are clean even considering the crowds going in and out throughout the day.

Fatal Flaw No. 5: Lack of dedication to people development. Have you ever wondered why you have employees? Bored, restless, asleep at their desk and ready to head out the door? Trust me on this…it has little to do with money and a lot to do with lack of training and development…or you are just plain boring as a leader! Maybe it’s time to spice things up a bit with some very unconventional development approaches.

A lot of people say that I harp on this one point, because I’m a trainer and coach, and I have to harp on this, because that’s how I make my living, but that’s not the case. I emphasize this because 1) on the Strengths Finder profile, my two major strengths are achieving and learning, and 2) I know that without development, your employees will disengage and move to a company that takes care of their development, and 3) every day, if anything ever happens to you, you You must be fully committed (God forbid!) to creating a strong succession line of people who can step in and run the company.

It’s very common for leaders to delegate this task to someone in HR or a company’s training department, but I believe that today’s CEOs need to 1) have their own development program and 2) be actively involved in development and training. of high potential leadership candidates. If a CEO is removed from this process, she may not know where the talent gap is.

Solution: Devote one hour every day to the development of your people. Start by knowing both the strengths and weaknesses of your key leaders, and look for repeating patterns of both strengths and skill gaps throughout the company. With some investigative work, you may be able to uncover key leadership skills that are missing in many departments. Arrange meetings with your top executive team to assess where they stand on the leadership development path, and begin creating a robust leadership and skill development plan for each person in your company (and yes… it should be a customized leadership development and skill development plan. ) With this perspective, your employees will dance out the door every morning excited, because they know today is an opportunity for a new skill, stretch assignment, or new way of thinking. Organization At the end of the day, you want to provide challenging and stressful tasks and assignments and give people in your organization a chance to “step up to the plate.” People want to be stretched, but if you don’t set the tone as a leader to be dedicated to seeing your people grow over time, they won’t. You must be so willing to develop your people that your competitors will recruit them. While this is often hard to swallow, if you have worked to develop the people in your organization, they will think twice before leaving you!

Finally, I encourage you to start addressing any flaws in your leadership approach that may be hurting your company, and I urge you to get out and work with a consultant, coach, or mentor who can help you get started. A better way for today, 2010 and beyond.

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