Spring is in the air, making it a great time to declutter our workspaces. It also makes it the perfect time to clear out bad leadership habits.
Even the best leaders can get caught up with actions that may provide efficiency but are not the most effective way to lead their staff. Let’s look at a few everyday habits that are easily improved with adjustments to our mindset and weekly planning.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Chances are, at whatever level you are at, you’ve experienced this behavior. Most commonly, we see it in leaders encouraging staff not to work weekends or be available on weekends when they do the opposite.
This behavior can also be seen in the way leaders show up. How do they speak to others, meet their deadlines when working with the team, and demonstrate respect for others’ time?
One of the most common examples is meetings. As a leader, if you schedule it, arrive on time, start on time, and conclude it early or on time. These actions are a great way to build trust, demonstrate respect for your team’s time, and set a good example.
Too busy for check-ins.
Many in leadership suffer from being too busy to check in with their staff regularly. As we climb the ladder, we lose sight of the value we provide to our staff. Ironic that this value-added was likely a factor in our ascent.
I’m often given pushback from leaders that their employees are just fine and do not have time in their schedule. I challenge that mindset as shortsighted. If the employee struggled in a way that affected the team or the leader, they would find the time. Why do we only “find” the time when something is going wrong?
Finding 5-10 minutes periodically to hop on the phone, zoom, or drop by the employees’ desk to ask them how they are doing provides many benefits to both the employee and the leader. True open lines of communication are rarely achieved simply with the statement, “My door is always open.”
Playing things close to the vest.
Leaders are often privy to more information than their employees as part of responsibilities of seniority. While this makes sense in some situations, a strategic view can be helpful to your team to provide context and a broader understanding of how their work fits or aligns.
Consider, when appropriate, sharing what you can with your team. This approach helps them feel more tied to the outcome and demonstrates your trust and belief in being a team. This also applies to sharing bad news sooner rather than later.
The wise advice I received years ago was that bad news does not get better with time. As employees, we are encouraged to report any bad news, such as project delays or cost overruns, to our supervisors as soon as possible. This works both ways.
While there are sometimes constraints on what and when we can share information as leaders, a best practice is to bring your staff into the loop as soon as feasible and appropriate. No one likes to be the last to know.
The best leaders strive to be the best and work to find ways to improve continuously. We see so many statistics about employee morale, which sadly often begins with a few small things that build and spread until they erode the employees’ trust in their leaders and organization.
There are many ways we build trust with our employees and teams. Sometimes it’s the smallest effort have the greatest impact on those we lead.