In my last post, I said that most people grow in their leadership skills because they have to learn new things to solve the problems in front of them. Problems for leaders generally come in three areas; themselves, other people, and the environment. The leader creates the systems, disciplines, and culture in an organization. Thinking about any problems your decisions and behavior may be creating is a great place to start on your problem-solving journey. Also, because your behavior is one of the few things that is totally under your control, it is the easiest place to change.
It seems like changing yourself is easy, but seeing where you need to change can be hard. Here are three areas where leaders can cause problems for themselves.
Values – Your values and how you live them create how people see your character. If your character lines up with what those around you value and you consistently display that character, then you are in good shape – no problems to solve. If you are experiencing that your team does not respect or trust you, despite your best intentions, take some time to analyze why that might be.
First, think about how your values line up with the values of your team. For example, if they don’t like bad language but are using it, you might lose people’s respect. Remember that each organization has a specific culture. Compare your values to that of the team and see if they match. If you think that your team’s values are off base (maybe they are using bad language), you need to begin teaching and modeling a different set of values. If yours are off base, you need to change your behavior to get the result you want.
The second thing you can do is ask yourself if you are really living your values consistently. We can often fool ourselves about the truth in this. We confuse our intentions with what we actually do. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback on your behavior versus your values and see if you have work to do in this area.
Don’t get defensive – get busy.
Knowledge – If you do not have the skills to do your job, you will not get the results you want. If you are not honest about this, you will also struggle to get respect from your team. You don’t need to know everything. Especially when you are new on the job, nevertheless, you must know what knowledge is needed to do the job, know your own capabilities, know the gap, and plan to fill it in the long and short term. That’s your problem to solve.
Making a plan to bridge that gap and communicating it to your team will give them confidence in you. If you act like you know everything and they know you don’t, they will be less likely to have confidence in you than if you admitted your short-comings. Identifying “gap-fillers” and letting your team know how you are doing that will make them feel safer that you will not lead them to disaster. Asking them to help you fill the gaps will increase their connection with you.
Don’t let your ego get in the way – start learning.
Connection – If you are not connecting with other people, they won’t follow you. You might be spot on with your values and have all the knowledge to do the job, but if your team doesn’t understand what you are trying to accomplish and why you are not connecting. That’s your problem to solve.
Here’s one of the most important things I learned about managing people. If they don’t feel that you have their backs, they won’t follow you. This can’t be faked. If you are leading people and don’t care about helping them be the best they can be, you should not be leading people. Period.
Think about how you communicate the “why” of what you are doing and make sure everyone gets it. Ask yourself if you genuinely care about your team operating at their individual and collective best. If you don’t – stop leading. If you do, think about if they can feel that. Suppose the answer is no, then work on your communication.
Don’t expect your team to read your mind – start communicating.
When you are working on getting results as a leader, it is a never-ending cycle of problem identification and problem-solving. Thinking through your performance in character (values), job knowledge, and connecting with your team can help you identify leadership problems you can solve. On to the next problem to solve!
Need help in evaluating your leadership performance? Contact me at linda@lindallisonresults, and I can help you with that.