So You’re Not as Good of a Leader as You Thought. Here’s What To Do Next

As he read the comments from his team, I saw his facial expression change from excited to confused. At one point he looked up and said, “It’s hard to believe they don’t think I care about them and that I only care about their performance.” Sitting back in his chair, he to process the new information. I will never forget the next thing he said:

“As much as I hate to read this about myself, I can’t change now because I am set in my ways. My team knows me too well. They would never think of me any other way, even if I did change the way I led.”

There was some truth behind his words. The reality, however, was that he had the ability to change, but was not willing to put in the required work to do so.

Many professionals in today’s world find themselves in a similar situation. You could debate for hours as to why there is an abundance of bad bosses in organizations, but I am going to simplify it into three main reasons:

  • Previous examples of leadership
  • Love of power, authority, and control
  • Protecting their position within their organization

Author Brad Lomenick joined me on a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, agreed, “We have a cycle of bad leadership that continues to perpetuate itself on itself. For years, if not decades, bad bosses lead the way they were led, compared to how they want to be led.”

No matter where you fall on the leadership spectrum of a subpar to great, there is good news. It is not too late for you to become a better and more effective example for your people. While an older professional may be more set in their ways than someone who is in their first year of management, both can put in the work required to develop and improve their leadership skills.

Here are three steps to transform a bad boss into a great leader.

1. Know the steps to change behavior.

Changing a behavior or habit is difficult no matter who you are. As much as we all want to positively influence the behavior or others, it is up to them to implement the change. That does not mean we should avoid doing things that help people open their hearts and mind to the idea. My friend Alan Stein Jr. laid out three steps towards advancement that I have related to leadership:

Awareness — Becoming informed about how you are leading today

Understanding the Impact – Clearly comprehending the effects changing as a leader will have your life and what is at risk if you do not change

Reconditioning — Developing new leadership habits and behaviors

2. Understand what it really means to be a leader.

Leadership is commonly thought of as being in a position of power, prestige, or responsibility. The problem with this is that it considers only yourself. That is the direct opposite of leadership is all about. I have come to define leadership this way, “Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time.”

Leadership is about other people, not yourself. It is important for you to wrap your head around your own ability to put the needs of other individual above your own. LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, articulated this in a business sense on a recent episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, “As a manager, you aren’t meant to just direct your employees or to create their to-do list. Your job is to turn their light on.”

3. Focus on your example.

Too often leaders get caught up in coming up with the right words to say or the right speech to give instead of just turning to the most powerful thing they have control over, their own example. Instead of making some big announcement about the changes you are going to employ, just focus on your actions because they truly speak a lot louder than words.

It could all be simplified this way: Focus on spreading leadership at all times only using words when absolutely necessary.

Free Welder Leader Profile Assessment Join over 25k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

Free Culture Assessment Join over 200 companies who have discovered what level of company culture currently exists in their organization today. (Toxic, Deficient, Common, Advanced, Elite) Take it for free here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

10 Critical Tips to Become a Great Leader

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a leader. I loved achieving as a team and the feeling of camaraderie over individual successes. There is something significant about going through a process or journey with others and being victorious. But I quickly found out that just because you dream about or love something doesn’t mean you are going to be great at it.

My first opportunity leading others professionally proved to be a disaster. I ended up being living proof that Jocko Willink’s quote about leadership is true. “There are no bad teams just bad leaders.” I failed my team, but I knew it didn’t have to end that way.

After years of studying, practicing, applying, and writing about what the best leaders do, I am confident in a set of common tips that all leaders of teams should know. If followed, applied, and mastered, these 10 important tips will increase the probability of improving the performance of your team as a whole. These do not have to be completed in order and you will probably find that you are already practicing a number of them.

1. Be Consistent

I define consistency as “the steadfast adherence to principles, truth or standards of behavior”. It can often be confused for intensity, but truth be told, consistency beats intensity every time. What keeps your teeth clean is not brushing them with vigor, but brushing them twice on a daily basis. The same is true in leadership. Consistency is a vital part of being a leader. A steadfast adherence to principles and standards of behavior will make you the most successful leader you can be. When you lack these, you create a sense of uncertainty and doubt for your team that is almost impossible to overcome.

2. Communicate All the Time

The vast majority of conflict in a work environment or any relationship can be blamed on poor communication. Many leaders do not place enough emphasis on and put enough effort into clear communication. When a leader or team does not properly communicate, assumptions are made. This results in people being unsure about where they stand or how they are supposed to behave. Making it a priority every day to be a great communicator and choosing to over- vs under-communicate will help avoid these issues.

3. Focus on Relationships

Relationships are the center of everything. As such, the relationships you build as a leader must be based on trust and mutual respect. Where most leaders struggle is in understanding their responsibility to earn those two things. Long gone are the days of a title earning the respect of those you lead. In today’s workplaces, a title should only be a reminder of your responsibility to earn trust and respect from your people.

4. Be Purpose-Driven

The desire to be part of something bigger than oneself is deep within everyone. Being purpose-driven is the best way to satisfy this need. Knowing what it is you want to do, beyond making money, is such a vital part of being successful. Ask yourself, who do we serve? Why is it important? What greater impact can/do we have on the world?

5. Define Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or an organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and help people decipher right from wrong. A common denominator between all great leaders is the time they have dedicated to defining their own set of core values. You always know a core value not by the words on a wall or website but by seeing what a leader rewards, recognized and talks about. They are so important because talented people aren’t attracted to empty core values, but rather the exercising of them.

6. Share Your Vision

An integral part of leadership is becoming better than you are today and having a vision for what is possible in the future. Note, I use the word vision and not sight. Sight restricts a team to what they can currently see, vision captures the future of what could be. Elon Musk did this beautifully for his team at SpaceX. “We are going to land people on Mars by 2025,” he said. Imagine going to work there every day and working towards putting people on a different planet! Musk’s people have a clear cut goal and end date to strive for. As a leader, if you do not communicate an improved future state, the chances of you and your team achieving it are not very good.

7. Create a Safe and Connected Environment

Whether your team works in the same office space every day or is remote, creating a safe and connected environment matters all the same. In doing so, you are allowing your people to become the best version of themselves because people want to feel safe and a part of something bigger than themselves which makes them feel welcome.

8. Align Behaviors

To achieve the results you desire, you must cultivate and get the right behaviors and habits of your team. The natural question becomes, how do leaders get these things consistently? By setting high standards, holding people accountable and allowing people to choose to meet or exceed them. A standard is simply defining what good looks like. If you are clear in defining them and your people are held accountable, you will see a consistent pattern of good choices.

9. Coach for Skill

All coaching interactions between you and your people should have a common theme: make an individual better, not tear them down. You should proactively be coaching an individual based on their skills. Skill is defined as “the ability to do something well”. It is imperative that you understand the three levels of skill development in order to best serve your people. These include; building critical mass, accelerated performance, and mastery. Varying tactics and techniques are necessary during your coaching conversation dependent on where a team member is within the three levels.

10. Coach for Long-Term Development

Developing skills to help you and your business in the short-term presents a great deal of value. However, you must go beyond the short-term and contribute to the long-term success and well being of your people. I help leaders to evaluate the following 5 areas components when coaching for long-term development: Do you have development mindset? Do you encourage people to no end? Do you go beyond the job? Do you challenge what’s possible? Do you align to your people’s dreams? If you can answer these questions about each member of your team, they know you care about them for the long haul. Which means the more they will give you in the short term.

Every leader began somewhere. If you are anything like most leaders, it’s safe to say you didn’t take your job of leading others seriously enough early on. You probably just winged it or did what came naturally. This is what has created a low quality of leaders in the current workplace. The latest statistics show 60% of new leaders fail within the first 18 months of their job. Additionally, the vast majority of people don’t have confidence in the leaders they currently have.

In order for you to excel as a leader, you must work hard to understand, master, and apply these ten tips on an ongoing basis.

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to go to use these 10 tips to go to the next level? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join the 3-month online academy which follows the core curriculum of these 10 tips. Learn more and sign up here.

Free Leadership Profile Assessment Join over 35k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author the upcoming book “Elevate Others: The New Model to Successfully Lead Today.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

7 Surprising Things Hurting Your Development as a Leader

If you are unhappy in your development as a leader, you’re not alone.  Many people in leadership roles struggle with hitting a plateau when it comes to enhancing their leadership skills. As with the path to developing any skill, you are going to hit valleys and peaks on your way to developing as a leader. If you are currently in one of these valleys or the next time that you find yourself in one of these potholes, consider some of these factors: 

Losing Your Sense of Purpose

As people get older, they change. As people change, their priorities change.  When their priorities change, their sense of purpose, why they are on the earth, and why they do what they do professionally might change.  Without a clear understanding of what you want and why, your leadership abilities are going to be negatively affected.

Skipping Out on Exercise

Any type of exercise improves your mood with the release of endorphins.  This gives you more energy, which will provide you an extra boost of things that are important in leadership; including, confidence, patience and time for your people.

Cutting off the Knowledge Fountain   

Why so many people just stop consuming knowledge is beyond me.  Its fairly simple, the depth of your knowledge is one of the best indicators your future.  Leadership is a journey and not a destination so it requires constant improvement and refinement.  The question you have to ask yourself is, how many books, podcasts, videos, experiences, or articles do you consume to increase your knowledge?  Are you investing in yourself to become a better leader?

Speaking too Much

It’s impossible to learn when your mouth is constantly moving.  Speaking too much stifles our skills and abilities to lead because the people you are leading don’t get the opportunity to blossom.  Try being more intentional in how many and what words you use.  That way, when you are speaking, it will be much more impactful.

Losing Touch with a Mentor

As time goes on, it’s easy to lose touch with mentors or the people that helped provide wisdom and guidance to get you where you are.  If this is something that has happened to you, grab your phone and reach out.  You will be amazed at the outcome.

Focusing too Much on Money   

With most promotions comes a raise.  All of sudden your life quickly becomes how much money you are making, and how much you have to make to based on your lifestyle.  Some call it “golden handcuffs.” If money is the majority of what you think about and pursue, it will become just one more hindrance to your ability to lead.

Eating by Yourself

Are you so busy, you scarf lunch down at your desk by yourself, or worse you skip it all together? If so, its hurting your development as a leader. Being a leader is about other people.  Sponsoring team lunches or scheduling lunches with specific team members are great ways to continue to develop as a leader.  They provide human opportunities to learn and inspire your team.

Some of these are easy to change, while others are extremely difficult.  If any of these resonate with you, start small by changing habits to remove or eliminate each one.  Keep in mind the ultimate goal is to do everything you can to stop hindering your development of being a better leader.

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to go to the next level?  Learn more about our 6 month online academy based on servant leadership principles, expert coaching, and practical action plans. Learn more here.

Free Culture Assessment Join over 200 companies who have discovered what level of company culture currently exists in their organization today. (Toxic, Deficient, Common, Advanced, Elite) Take it for free here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.