There isn’t one right way to be a good leader, but there are a few mistakes to avoid.
1. Losing the 10,000-Foot Vision:
As the leader, your vision needs to be the main source of inspiration for your company. In the Bootstrap series I talk about stepping back from your company to get the 10,000 foot view. Sometimes being too close to your company can cause you to change or lose your vision to accommodate short-term goals. Take the time you need to get clear about your company’s vision, and return to work with renewed power.
It’s common for employees to get consumed by their tasks of completing short-term goals and lose track of the company vision. One of the most important jobs as a leader is to create time to remind team members about the long-term company vision and show them how their day-to-day short-term goals are contributing to the overall vision.
As the leader, your vision sets the tone for your entire company.
2. Building a Lopsided Team:
All teams are built from employees who have strengths and weaknesses. We are all human, no matter what we say in a job interview, we have areas that we are trying to grow in. If an employee thinks they don’t have any weaknesses or areas to work on, they’re not going to grow within your company anyway. So accept that your team has strengths and weaknesses, and focus on building a team that is filled with employees who can support each other.
On sports teams, players are brought in to fill specific roles. While your company may be a start-up that requires employees to fill multiple roles, you need to recognize each employee’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to their roles. As the leader you need to manage the strengths of your team to maximize productivity, and you will also need to manage the weaknesses of your team to understand where your team has opportunity to grow, and the skills you will need to acquire to fully round out your team.
3. Being too Business Formal:
As the leader it makes sense that you want to leave your personal life at home, but our workplaces are such a big part of our lives. You cannot be impersonal with your employees and expect them to enjoy where they work. You need to allow for some personality to grow within the company and make employees feel valued for what they bring to the workplace.
Acting too impersonal can also keep a barrier between you and your team, which makes them hesitate to bring important matters to your attention. As the leader at Wish Group, I like to walk around the office and speak with everyone. These interactions allow me to connect with Wish Group associates; they’re informal so we’re able to talk about work or personal things, and they open up a two-way dialogue that lets my associates know they can approach me about anything.
Get out there and talk with your people on the ground floor to build personal relationships.
4. Discouraging Innovation:
Many leaders claim they foster innovation in the workplace, but when you look into their culture you don’t find any room for innovation. It is one thing to say that you want your team to be innovative, but if you don’t give them room to tinker, try things out, and make mistakes, you are not fostering a culture of innovation. Not all innovation will succeed, so you need to motivate your team to keep striving when they don’t achieve instant success.
5. Forgetting to Celebrate Milestones:
You may not think it’s a big deal to forget a birthday or work anniversary, but to many employees it is important to be recognized. These milestones will be important to your team members, so get creative with how you alert the company. Celebrating birthdays or work anniversaries builds a sense of belonging, company morale, and motivation.
Sending out e-cards for birthdays is a good way to get started!
Remember that there isn’t one right way to be a good leader. The best way to improve is to be open with your team and accept their feedback. As your company grows, new employees will be added to your team that require unique leadership. The job of a leader is never done and it is always changing.
If you have any tips to use or avoid as a leader, share them in a comment below.