When you’re at the top of a business it can be the small things that make a difference between success and failure. Often it is the smaller things that we overlook that hold us back and keep us from being all that we can be. Whether it is rushing to complete even more tasks, or speeding conversations along, there are some habits we fall into that hold us back. Below are three subtle habits that could be sabotaging your leadership
When running any sort of business there is a lot of information that is created. Everything from financial projections, costs of opening the doors and cost of each lead that comes into the business. As a leader you are aware of this information and the impact it has on your business. But how many of your staff know this?
Does your staff know what it costs to open the doors each morning, how much it costs you to employ them and what the margins of the business are? If they don’t know this they do not have a context to understand your decisions against.
If they don’t know that margins are being squeezed, a call to cut back on expenses is seen as just trying to increase profits, not protect cash flow and future business. If they know how much it costs you to employ them and the profit they are expected to make each they may think twice before taking a sickie.
When staff have a more complete understanding of your business they are more likely to follow your directions and do as you need them to do.
When you speak first you set the tone for the conversation, the type of ideas that can be generated and the direction the conversation will go. Even if you see yourself as a non-threatening boss who welcomes feedback and contrary ideas, speaking first will temper some on your team.
It is a brave staff member who comes up with an idea contrary to what the boss has suggested. They have to be braver still if they see a flaw in it. This means you miss out on the wisdom that lies within your staff and the benefits of their experience.
Let others speak first and share their ideas. Let them put forward what they know based on the insights and experiences they have before you share your thoughts. This will draw out what they know and can contribute to your business. Then, once they have shared, put forward your ideas and see how they can be integrated in to what has already been discussed. This shows you can build on their ideas and can value their contribution.
If you’re continually speaking first your ideas will smother what others think and this will cause a disconnect from them to you.
In today’s ultra connected world, it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. As addictive as the adrenaline rush from this busyness can be, it causes a disconnect from others and ourselves. We have to make shortcuts and rely on assumptions to get through the sheer quantity of work we have. These short cuts effect our leadership style in three ways:
- Miss stuff. When we cut corners we have to miss stuff. Unfortunately this is often people. We miss the opportunity to hear them, understand them and connect with them. That extra minute you could have spent with your staff before rushing off to the next meeting might just be the time needed to hear what’s going on, or to enable them to learn more about you so they feel more part of the team and willing to go the extra step for you.
- Mess stuff. When we rush we often mess up. We miss-read e-mails, don’t formulate our response as well as we could and make quick decisions without evaluating all the available information. Being rushed often leads to writing extended e-mails in a stream of consciousness and forcing others to interpret what we mean. It was the 16th century philosopher Pascal who said, “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter”…or e-mail.
- Manage stuff. When we make mistakes or give less than optimal responses we end up having to double handle things and manage a proper response to them. This double handling takes up more time and increases our workload. This in turn means that we miss more things and the process snowballs
Speaking order and you hanging around at the end of a meeting may seem like small things that don’t matter too much. But like a stone in your show, it’s the small things that are noticed and annoy people enough to take action.
Darren Fleming is the author of Don’t be a D!ck – creating connections that make influence happen.
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