Being a good boss is difficult. As long as you’re not supernatural, you will hit a wall now and then in your leadership role. Is this because you make mistakes? Make the wrong decisions? Probably; you are human. But more often than not it is because decision makers tend to stand in their own way.
German business analyst and former executive Sabine Hockling introduced a pattern of recurring mistakes made by hundreds of managers from over 30 sectors and more than 50 countries. No matter how different they may be, or how large their business – decision makers kept falling back into five sneaky little traps.
1. Overemphasising personal goals
An entrepreneur without goals is a sorry one. Goals have helped you to the top, and the self-discipline to reach them is something you wear like a medal on your chest. Right; slow down now. Your goals aren’t the only thing that’s important anymore. A boss who presents his/her own needs and objects as priority number one will be perceived as destructive and stubborn. This attitude leads to sole decision making without consideration of co-workers; an absolute no-go in teamwork. Acting like a mini-dictator will do you no good, and in the end, your ambition might be your downfall.
2. Caring too much about your own image
How do you want to be perceived? Believe it or not, we all are narcissists to an extent. Business leaders, torn between being authoritative and friendly towards their team, often spend a lot of time working on their image. So much, in fact, that they’re lacking time for other things. Those who want to be perceived as more intelligent are blocking their readiness to take risks. Those who want to be loved by their colleagues are often perceived as ambivalent, which leads to confusion and antipathy instead. Rather than trying to draw an image of yourself, focus on what you are meant to do: lead.
3. Seeing colleagues as enemies
We don’t have to love the people we work with; respecting them is enough. That may sound simple, but many decision makers tend to see their less likeable colleagues as enemies and – more or less unconsciously – neglect them. A great mistake; you are probably throwing away some very valuable potential. If you can bring yourself to bite the bullet and treat even the most unlikeable team member with with respect, you have one hell of an advantage.
4. Wanting to do everything yourself
Business is tough. Leading a business is tougher. Quite often – particularly in uncertain economic times – you don’t know whether it’s make or break tomorrow. No surprise that you only trust yourself. But sole decision making is rarely advisable. You shouldn’t underestimate the value of a second opinion. A strong team, mentors, even family members and friends will balance out your decisions and support you – you only have to let them.
5. Waiting for green light “from the top”
One of the most overused phrases on CVs worldwide must be “able to work under time pressure”. Really? Have you ever had to make a crucial decision for yourself, your business and your team, all on your own, with the clock ticking maniacally in your neck? These situations inevitably lead to a tightrope walk between formal rules and personal responsibility. Here’s a sign that you’re a great leader: when the tough gets going, you don’t anxiously wait for an “okay” from the officials. You recognise when it’s time to act.
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