Leadership comes with many benefits: additional responsibility, recognition, greater influence into the C-Suite and of course, a higher position on the corporate pay scale.
And then there are things leaders wish they could avoid at all costs – those things outside of their comfort zone, yet things that are inevitable and required. Hence the phrase, “That’s why you get paid the big bucks.”
Following are the top five things leaders wish they could escape…
1. Terminating employees. No matter how populated a personnel file may be, and no matter how poor an employee’s attitude may be, ending someone’s career is one of the most difficult things leaders do. And it’s not just the act of firing – it’s the self-doubt that a bad hire was made, or that the manager wasn’t able to “master” a particular employee.
2. Admit mistakes. Nobody likes screwing up, but it happens to all of us and the most courageous thing we can do as leaders is to admit our mistakes when we make them. While it may be tempting to cover them up, pass the blame to others or make lame excuses, the noble thing to do is to openly share the mistakes we make and use them as learning experiences. If you’ve ever worked for a leader who was perfect and never even mumbled an apology, you know exactly what I mean.
3. Ask employees for feedback. While it’s both natural and expected to give employees reviews, it seems rather unnatural for employees to give us reviews. Yet there are several benefits to this management practice:
• Employees will appreciate and respect the request for their feedback
• If you have a healthy relationship with your employees, they will be very open and honest with you
• You need to know how you are performing for your own professional development
4. Seek buy-in on what needs to be done. This is especially difficult when you know change is necessary, and when you also predict that change will be met with resistance. Your natural inclination may be to force necessary change through with a smiling face, but it will come back to bite, both hard and quick. Keep in mind that people are much more accepting of change when they feel as if they are a part of making the decision. Not to be confused with whether or not to make change, but in how the change will take place. Managers who unilaterally force things through based on necessity may create anything from mild resistance of a few employees to a mutiny of the whole. Life is much easier when everyone affected by change feels as if they are contributors to a solution.
5. Sit in training. For the seasoned, long-time manager, training is viewed as a waste of time, especially if everything back at the ranch seems to be going just fine. For newer managers, they may not understand that leadership has everything to do with E.Q., not I.Q., and E.Q. requires a very specific set of skills to resolve conflict, listen well, lead people and motivate groups to consistently give their best every day in every way. And for the autocratic, micromanaging leaders who can’t seem to hold on to anyone for more than a couple years, well, enough said.
If you’re in a leadership position, feel free to add to this list. You may have noticed that the challenges of leadership orbit around people skills – not technical skills. The unfortunate reality is that too many people are promoted into leadership based on their technical skills with little consideration of how effective they are with people.