Being an effective leader is hard work. So hard, in fact, the majority of new leaders in the U.S. fail in doing their job every single year. But it turns out there are many things that we bring on ourselves to make it harder than it should be.
Most of the time it’s simple bad habits, while other times you could be unaware of them altogether. Either way, consider yourself now in the know about the signs you’re on the path to poor leadership.
1. You don’t love your people
I spent some time last week with one of the best managers I have ever met and when I asked him his secret to being a great manager, his answer surprised me, “All I do is love my people.” Now before you get your human resources flag out, we define love in the Welder Leader Program as, “to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well being.”
In today’s Millennial and soon-to-be-Gen Z workforce, is that important? Of course it is. People want their leader to play an active part in their long-term success and well-being, and that’s never going to change.
2. You have time-consuming hobbies
The reason I know this so well is because my only hobby is golf. Taking five hours off on a workday to go tee it up for yourself isn’t the best thing you can show your team. Now, I am not saying you can’t have hobbies or shouldn’t play golf, but I am saying your people watch everything you do, whether you like it or not.
3. You don’t think culture matters that much
Culture is everything to a team and while everyone on the team plays a part in the ongoing development of the culture, it’s the leader’s responsibility to create and own it. Former Carolina Panthers All-Pro Mike Rucker said, “It’s the culture a leader sets that dictates the path.” To net it out, culture matter more than you even give it credit for because bad cultures create bad habits and bad habits eventually lead to bad results. Conversely great cultures create good habits and good habits eventually lead to positive results.
4. You view men and women differently in the workplace.
Much of our gender bias in the workplace was planted in us by prior generations, but it doesn’t mean it’s OK. The latest research shows only 22 percent of executive leadership positions in the U.S. are held by women, which is below the world average. Gender bias is a business issue, not a women’s issue.
Whether you are a man or a woman, allowing any preconceived beliefs or stereotypes to get in the way of looking at results and holding people accountable is a huge problem.
5. You define yourself by how much you made last year.
The easiest way for anyone to define themselves is the almighty dollar. The great Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
Your people won’t follow you because you made a lot of money, they will follow you because you make their life better and more fulfilled.
6. You don’t start your day with “What Moves the Needle.”
My good friend and successful entrepreneur Mac Lackey taught me the secret to successful days lies in a small note card at the beginning of every day with the letters “WMN” on it. It stands for “What Moves the Needle.” If you don’t know what you can do each and every day to move the needle for your team, you will get sucked into the vortex of email, micromanagement, and putting out fires where you really aren’t needed.
7. You aren’t measuring short-term wins
In last week’s episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, I covered ‘How to Be a Visionary Leader.’ One of the biggest mistakes visionary leaders make is not measuring short-term wins to ensure the team is on the path towards achieving the vision.
Think of it like the slalom in Alpine skiing. From the top of the hill you can see the finish line but to get there you have to go through a series of flags. Your short-term wins that you need to be measuring are the flags. As the team achieves them, it’s your job to celebrate them.
8. You never ask your people for feedback.
Our research of more than 20 thousand leaders has shown the number one thing leaders do poorly is asking their people for feedback. Too many leaders assume they are doing a good job. If this is something you struggle with, show some vulnerability and humility and simply ask your peoples’ opinion about how you can improve.
9. You don’t have a mentor.
This business world is tough. To go to work every day (no matter what role you are in) without a mentor is like going into a gunfight with a knife. It’s just a terrible idea. While the best mentor/mentee relationships happen organically, proactively seeking advice and guidance from people who have come before you is never a bad idea.
10. Your company doesn’t invest in your development.
The modern days of online learning and self-education are here, but there is still a direct correlation in higher levels of performance when organizations are investing in leadership development. The latest research shows a 24 percent higher profit margin per employee and a 218 percent higher revenue per employee than those organizations who don’t offer leadership development programs to their people.
If you are guilty of some of these signs, I don’t want to beat you up. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Leadership is a journey, not a destination. Use my favorite Latin saying, “nunc coepi” which “means today I begin.”
A version of this article appeared in Inc.com
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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. Follow him on Instagram @johngeades.
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