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Can Leaders be a Roadblock for their Teams?

Can Leaders be a Roadblock for their Teams?

Over 75% of the employees leave their organization directly because of their managers!

Thus, proven that people leave because of poor leadership more often than their salary, position, or the work itself. Now as subordinates it is easy to point fingers at the leader and criticize them on all the things that they do not do well. For the leader it is a constant uphill climb about making critical decisions that have a direct impact on the work that their teams perform.

In most of the self-help books ever written on leadership, people management, managing teams etc. there is one thing which is emphasized over and over, repeatedly in one way or the other – Leadership is more about the soft skills, the EQ that you demonstrate rather than the hard skills or technical abilities.

With times changing and teams going from local and physical to global and virtual, how does a new age leader demonstrate their humane side to their teams whom he/she has never met? Ultimately a zoom call is still a zoom call, how do you make a real connection with your team over a virtual medium.

Over the last 22 years, I have had the good fortune of working with some high-pedigree leaders and being responsible for leading some of the most amazing teams, both small and large, local, and remote. I have come to understand a few things about managing people and teams, they want just one thing, they want to be believed in, reassured that they will grow professionally and personally.

Team members look at the leader to show them conviction and belief that the goal can be achieved and more importantly, achieved together.

Here are my top 10 list of derailers that leaders should avoid if they want to build high-impact teams for or within their organization.

#1 Wanting to have control over everything

Don’t treat your team like a babysitter. Being a leader is less about having control and more about giving it. People and teams grow when they are empowered. Don’t try to be there to do everything for them, be there to guide them and let them do the task themselves.

#2 Back your team before you bow down to the client

Clients will come and go but your team will return to work the next day only if they see the leader backing them up in challenging situations. No, I am not asking you to ignore incompetence, rather asking you to step up and take the responsibility being the leader rather than making your team member the scape goat. Ultimately you had a role in hiring them in the first place. Taking Ownership as a leader will always pay you dividends in the long run.

#3 Keeping the team in the dark

Get off from the highchair and talk to your teams. Let them know where your organization, your team is headed, talk to them about the team’s growth, challenges, show them the big picture from time to time, show them the progress the team has made together, call out extra-ordinary contributions, recognize their efforts and most importantly be grateful and thank them. People like want to be recognized. Communication opens the doors to new ideas.

#4 Know your people

Great teams are not built in the corner office, they are built on the shop floor.  Get with your team members and get to know them a little better than just their resumes and technical skills. Get to know their ambition, if they need help to improve their skills, find out if they have the necessary tools to perform, try to learn about their families and what really drives them. And most importantly, be prepared to learn from them. Just as the days of the monarchy are long gone so are the days of Bosses in corner offices.

#5 Taking pride in show of power

True leadership does not need a show of power, all it needs is show of consistent action and that drives equality and inclusiveness. I happened to spend close to a decade with two of the most prestigious financial institutions in the world and if there is one thing that I have learnt from that experience is that the true power of a leader lies in the strength of their team.

#6 Not stating the end goal clearly

If you have ever read, Franklin Covey’s, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you will find that Habit #2 is extremely effective in almost everything that you do. “Begin With the End in Mind”.  Be it a big-ticket project or a routine monthly task, it all starts with what do you want the end results to be. As a leader, communicate the acceptable standards for you and your organization. Clearly state the end-goal and the timeline by when you want to accomplish the goal, provide the team a vision of what you see as the end result, you will be surprised to learn your team’s interpretation of how they see the purpose of their team and the “End-Goal”. Do this repeatedly till your team is crystal clear on what they are there to achieve.

#7 Not investing in your teams’ learning

Growth happens only when one is exposed to new ideas, new concepts, new skills.

Water, although fluid but when sits still starts to gather algae. One of the basic human needs is to evolve. If your team is not learning something new each month, then rather than moving forward, your team, your organization is going back by years. With almost all my teams I have found that providing the team learning opportunities and upskilling themselves has saved me more money in my recruitment process than any other cost saving effort. Remember, when your staff learns, they not only build a sense of loyalty but also a sense of responsibility. Yes, there is a risk of people leaving you in spite of you investing in their learning, but wouldn’t they leave you anyways if you don’t?

#8 Always playing it safe

No Risk, No Reward. Period. The sooner you get this the better your returns will be. Leaders who are not prepared to take risks are often seen as “Marionettes” and easily stand to lose their team’s trust. You will be challenged as a leader, and you are expected to take a stand on issues that matter the most to your team and team members. You will be faced with moments of truth that will define your leadership character. Make sure it is one that you are proud of.

#9 Stopping talent from moving to better opportunities

It is heartbreaking to see people leave, especially when you have done everything in your books to groom, grow and give them the opportunities. But remember this, no matter what you or your organization does there will always be people who will move on to better opportunities. Don’t measure your success by the people who leave but by the people who stay back and help you build. These are your real rocks continue to invest in them.

“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation” – Gordon B Hinckley

#10 Focusing too much on the plan than the direction

Some of us are strategic leaders and some are tactical leaders, the strategic leader is the one carrying the telescope and the tactical one is the one carrying the microscope. Both are very critical roles and necessary in driving teams and organizations towards success. But too much of either will never get you to shore. A good leader pulls out the right tool based on the situation, just like the analogy you will need to pull out the microscope when building your plan but often you will need to re-align your direction through the telescope. Often, if you keep your eye on the direction and plan till the next 50 miles you will hit shore.

When in your 20s, don’t look for a high paying job rather look for a good boss to work with, I’ve been fortunate to experience this firsthand and would repeat the experience given a choice. What you will learn when working with a good manager in the first 5 years will pave the way for a fulfilling and ever-growing career decades on, be it as an individual contributor or while managing a team. Your growth is guaranteed.

Trust the process.

About the Author

Dharmesh Suryavanshi is also a digital and automation evangelist who has conceptualized and launched over 8 brands since 2017. With Purview Digital, his vision is to help business owners launch and grow their brands not just through social media but also by simplifying the customer journey while giving them a seamless digital experience.