Inspiration is one of the main quality of a true leadership. Great leaders are not only in name, but also in fact. They generate ideas, motivate employees for productive work, and significantly increase team agility and innovation. Truly inspiring leaders usually know how to strike a balance in how much they facilitate their team to contribute towards organisational success and how much responsibility they take upon their own shoulders. And how well one can harness commitment and effort of their team and how well they inspire team’s success, depends on their leadership skills and behaviours.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”— Ronald ReaganTweet
What makes some leaders get it all wrong
Best leaders work towards empowering those they lead. They create a supporting environment where people are inspired to go after their goals. And their behaviours play an important role in determining how dedicated they are at equipping their teams with what they need to succeed. This is especially important in today’s workplace, where no one person has all the answers or can do everything.
Whether you are overseeing or managing, your leadership skills inspire others to reach their shared goals/desired results. But at the same time, they can also be one of the major causes of stress in the workplace.
Sometimes people in leadership roles, adopt to dysfunctional style of leadership and display certain behaviours and characteristics that contribute to a negative, or even hostile working environment. Such behaviours often result in long and short-term consequences, employee stress, low productivity and innovation, team dissatisfaction and toxic work environments. Just because a person is in a leadership role, it does not mean that they are good at leading people. Stemming from insecurity, need for control, some people exhibit certain behaviours that value their self-interest over the wellness of their team.
Whether or not a leader can make sure of his or her team’s success lies in their leadership behaviours.
There is a clear distinction in the behaviour of the poor and best-rated leader. It is just as important to recognise what constitutes a poor leadership behaviour as it is to knowing what makes one a successful leader. This distinction becomes even more important, especially when you have to elevate someone to a leadership role or a managerial position.
For instance, a toxic individual might manipulate their seniority to put down subordinates. They might use their hierarchy to impose how they are the ultimate authority. So, when considering someone for a such role, you need to be clear about qualities and skills you are looking for. There are several traits that are taken into consideration, here are few such toxic leadership behaviours of inept leaders.
- Unwillingness to listen to feedback. Leadership is all about getting things done by improving people’s performance through right mechanisms. This requires them to evaluate several aspects of performance such as giving individual feedback on their skill set, their ability to apply knowledge or how they do their work. But inept leaders are unwilling to give and receive constructive feedback. Some of them even emphasise their own interests and desires instead of being receptive to those who work with them.
- Over-usage of power. Power does corrupt those who are ineffective. These people use fear in order to get things done, thereby suppressing a person’s ingenuity and originality. They either become too arrogant or controlling in their behaviours. Such ‘know it all’approach keeps them stuck instead of learning and growing, which is an important leadership trait. When they choose to use power to just exert their own sense of control or self-serving goals, it causes distress, anger or frustration among employees.
- Self-interest or excessive self-promotion. While it is important to set clear goals and objectives for their employees and provide guidance, inept leaders do this only for their self-advancement. They show no interest in people and only care about themselves or in getting the job done. Teams or employees lose interest when they are viewed as mere pawns or if they feel used in the process of fulfilling a leader’s self-interests.
- Over-compromising. An inspiring leader can usually find ways for the employees/ workplace/or an organisation to benefit in particular situations. Inept leaders on the other, often backtrack on what they say, or don’t seem to stand their ground. They either quickly make a compromise or shuffle on rules they set for their own benefit and not team’s. When leaders create different set of rules for different people, and take decisions without any genuine communication or discussion, it can lead to conflict or resentment in those whom they are leading.
- Micro-managing. Some leaders feel that delegating means losing control or convince themselves that it means failure or substandard work. This is common among leaders who insist on doing everything their way. They either think others take longer or do a shoddy work without their supervision. Micro-managing often signals lack of trust. Also, confident people don’t like being told what to do and how to do things. Asking for frequent updates or external pressure to complete a task only makes them disinterested sooner or later.
- Lack of support. Indifference or lack of support from leaders decreases team’s effectiveness and efficiency. They experience feelings of stagnation and blocks them from reaching their full potential. Inept leaders are sometimes so disconnected and refuse to groom or provide opportunities for people to learn and improve. Even if they do, they might opt to do so only for those from their inner circle. Being restrictive to their akin or a small cadre of ‘yes’ causes dissent and causes disharmony among others.
- Inadequate people skills. A leader without a vision can’t motivate employee performance, and establish values that inspire them towards achieving goals. Similarly, those who lack empathy can’t identify themselves with others and can’t make decisions that are in everyone’s interest. Inept leaders lack ethical core values that conflicts their decisions, goals and objectives. Even if they do have, they might prioritise profit making, fame, publicity or whatever inspires them to seek power.
Skills to up your team’s success
Considering the above leadership behaviours, inept leaders will never be able to inspire and drive their teams in taking risks or to overcome obstacles. Specific qualities will however make leaders more effective and inspiring in any team situations. One way is to adapt themselves to right leadership behaviours and this depends on how successfully they can align themselves to certain mental disciplines. Here are some of them.
In any field, be it business, workplace or an organisation, there is always a common goal that everyone is working towards. If as a leader, you don’t appear to believe and exhibit those values, as employees they won’t either.
Value alignment across everyone in the workplace, gives employees a deeper understanding of the overall purpose. and their connection leads to increased team engagement and inclusion. Best leaders always have a firm grasp of the core values of the organisation they are working for. They are authentic in embracing the values they want in their organisation and their team. To achieve this,
- Know your values. Being aware of your personal values and those of your organisation, you can better guide your team to remain congruent, consistent and balanced in their effort to reaching their goals. They serve as effective decision-making guidelines that help everyone on the team.
- Determine and self-assess your values and whether or not they are aligned with big picture goals or workplace’s values. If not, identify the disconnect and create an action plan to find congruence.
- Model those values by making them as a personal compass and then committing to live by them. This way you can point yourself and others in the right direction. Values like fairness, empathy, and integrity help the workplace evolve by creating an environment of trust and understanding.
- Communicate them. When you share and define your values as a leader, or your company’s values, it becomes a value statement for your team to work toward, and makes them accountable to consistently maintain those standards. They become better problem solvers, more autonomous, and more productive.
If you find that as a leader, your values seem too far away from those of your team’s, then it might be time to redefine to ensure that they are relevant to your objectives. Value alignment increases feelings of inclusion and improves team’s efficiency.
Open-mindedness is one of the most important mental discipline a leader can develop. Most of us do think that we are open minded people. But being open-minded is more like a journey than the destination. Because as human beings, we do not know what we do not know. And we cannot see what we cannot see.
Avoiding rigid thinking, and being open to more alternatives and perspectives increases not only your’s but also your team’s chance of achieving desired results. Here are some qualities of an open-minded leader,
- Open-minded leaders don’t exert their power to convince people of their analysis or instincts about what to do, nor do they serve their self-interests. Instead, they focus on purposefully including input from a more diverse range of people than usual for the overall benefit of everyone in an organisation or workplace.
- They don’t always expect unwavering execution of their decisions or rules in changing circumstances. Instead they re-affirm their decisions as conditions or circumstances change. Leaders with open-mindedness avoid the pitfalls of sticking to obsolete decisions that need to change. They realise the importance of changing things that aren’t still relevant.
- Leaders are open to receiving feedback and commit themselves to continuous learning. Inclusion of wide range of diverse perspectives leads to identifying better choices.
The ability to delegate is one of the best leadership tool for increasing employee morale, job satisfaction and trust between team members and productivity. This also helps leaders and teams to better manage their time and other resources thereby increasing their overall efficiency. However, some people who are worried about making themselves indispensable, generally, hesitate to or won’t delegate to their teams. Inept leaders who think they know better, somehow cling to all decision-making and avoid delegating it to others.
Changing the way you think about it is the first step towards increasing your team’s efficiency. The truth is that no one person can do it all. Not trusting your team for the tasks you give them only makes your team look incompetent or you will never know their level of motivation. It’s your job as a leader to guide, motivate, and oversee your team members in order to reach a goal. And doing so includes training. Though it will take extra time to train a person on a new task, it frees up your time per week and increases your quality time later. At the same time, you are helping them learn and develop new skills.
Inspiring teams towards their full potential requires leaders to evaluate several aspects of employee performance. This includes giving individual feedback on their skills, and their ability to fulfil the given task. A credible feedback on your employee’s performance based on whether or not they have achieved their objectives is important. Here is how to go about it.
- People respond differently to different styles of giving and receiving feedback and it mostly depends on their individual needs. So, as a leader, it is important to understand different personality types as it can save much conflict, resistance and misunderstanding.
- When you make it clear the objectives, values and are open and receptive to valuable feedback, it not only boosts their performance, but also helps in continuous improvement of their individual skill set. When seeking performance feedback, have a fair and equitable ways of measuring performance of all the people involved.
- When reviewing poor performance, identify the precise areas, where a person is under performing or exactly where the employee is not achieving. Whether it is lack of productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, or lack of skills. Asking them about the reasons, or the external factors and about their own views of their performance can result in better solutions.
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Inept leaders always deflect when it comes to taking responsibility. They choose to use power to just exert their own sense of control or self-serving goals and resort to blame others instead to own and address the issues. Inspiring leaders on the other, take responsibility of their team, when it comes to failure or for not getting things right. And this they do irrespective of the complexity and list of things and the number of employees. These leaders own up the mistakes, do not blame others for mission failures.
However, when there is a mismatch of boundaries, the responsibilities get confused and it often leads to poor performance. It does create disharmony, demotivation and distrust among the teams or employees in a workplace. For instance, giving over control or taking an extended sense of responsibility, or taking control of all the things, all of these things can be disempowering when it comes to getting the job done.
Good role boundaries are essential, when it comes to take responsibility for the work they do. One can better inspire their team towards success by providing support, guidance, proper resources and mentoring when teams face risks or challenges.
So, the questions I want to leave you with for self-reflection purpose
As a leader,
How dedicated are you in equipping your team towards success?
How aligned are your values with those whom you work with?
Do you invest time and resources in training those who are in need for help/support?
How could you better delegate to improve your team’s success?
How often do you hold regular, low-pressure performance reviews?
How often do you give credit to your team for the job well done?
Leadership is to inspire your team towards success. No matter what your goal, objective, or project, you need to value and invest in improving your team’s efficiency and effectiveness. It is however, sometimes your own mindset that matters in elevating and inspiring your team’s success.
As with any skill, mastering the above disciplines takes practice. And once mastered, they help bring a shift in your perspective that allows you to make better choices as a leader. Taking small, conscious steps to put your team before yourself everyday will not only improve their effectiveness, but also your leadership.
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