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Why you’re a terrible leader…(probably)

OK, so full disclosure, I don’t know you. You might be a truly inspirational leader – the kind of leader who inspires their people to rise above their most optimistic estimates of their own ability. The odds are in my favour, though. Most people aren’t great leaders. In fact, most people are awful leaders, but it’s not their fault. Leadership involves skill and skills need to be learned and developed.

So, here are five signs that you might not be the leader your people deserve. If any of these ring bells, don’t worry, you can change.

  1. You assign, you don’t delegate…

Managers are very good at assigning tasks to their teams. They allocate work effectively to make sure the task gets done. They keep an eye on SLAs and keep all the plates spinning.  Unfortunately, that makes for an uninspiring experience for their team members. Leaders, on the other hand, delegate and empower their teams. They know that results come from letting their people take responsibility and run with things for themselves.

  1. No one in your team makes mistakes

I’ve got some bad news for you – everyone makes mistakes. Your team are making mistakes regularly, they just aren’t telling you about them. If you aren’t hearing about the mistakes people are making, it is because you haven’t created an environment where your people feel safe making mistakes. This can be both toxic for the individuals and damaging to the team objective.

  1. You got the job because you were good at the job you now manage!

That’s how most people come to manage a team. They demonstrate that they are good at doing their job, a management position arises and suddenly they’re a manager. They spent years learning the job they’ve just left. They spend no time at all learning about what it takes to lead people. Hardly surprising that the results aren’t as good as they might be. Often, it goes even further – the leader thinks that the way they used to do the job must be the best (only?) way to do it. This stifles growth for all…

  1. Your people don’t can’t describe the big goal

If your people can’t tell me what everyone is working towards, there’s a failure in leadership. Everyone needs to know where they’re headed so they can make the continual course readjustments that are required. Without this common purpose, you’ve got lots of people pulling in lots of directions… you’re not leading.

  1. You don’t know how to give feedback properly

Giving feedback is a major part of good leadership and most people are exceptionally poor at it. Feedback is either too general, too late, or non-existent. Do your team know what they’re doing well? Do they know their development points? When you give feedback, do they leave feeling demotivated and demoralised, or empowered and rejuvenated?

And there you go. Just five signs that you’re a terrible leader. You might be a great manager, but if you want to lead, there’s work to be done. In coming pieces we’ll look at some of these in more detail and give you some winning tips to help you develop into an exceptional leader…

Jon Dunckley

Jon Dunckley is an author, coach, trainer, and keynote speaker. With nearly 30 years' experience, he holds multiple specialisms across financial services and psychology. A fellow of no fewer than seven organisations, he is widely sought after for his keen insight and motivational keynotes.

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