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Common Obstacles of Effective Leaders

We know that every leader has their strengths and weaknesses, but with the help of an online poll by Interact and Harris, Harvard Business Review has recently found that leaders consistently fall short in several areas. We think that knowledge is power, and that one of the easiest steps in adjusting or fixing our behavior is knowing what we could be doing better--thanks to feedback we've received, or by reflecting on our own behavior.

You've probably had a boss or leader who was guilty of one or some of the following, but would someone say any of these about you?


1. Not Recognizing Employee Achievements

25We're all busy, and instead of taking a minute to pause and congratulate others for a big sale, a happy client, a job well done, it's easy to let it slip past us in an effort to get more done. That kind of mentality isn't good for morale, and it makes employees believe that their leaders don't care if they do a good job or not, decreasing engagement, motivation, and quality of work.



How to fix it: We know that you can't have a special ceremony every single time an employee does something awesome. Instead, try setting aside 5 minutes at the beginning or end of team meetings to share good work you've seen that week. Recognize specific individuals by name, and share what they did and why it impressed you.



2. Not Giving Clear Directions

85966Have you ever delegated a task that didn't get done properly, and so you assumed the person who did it was incompetent? What if it really wasn't their fault--they just didn't understand what they were supposed to do? Inadequate instruction, training, or not understanding the desired end result is a giant mistake magnet. It not only frustrates the employee who doesn't know what they're supposed to do, but will inevitably disappoint the boss because it either won't get done or won't get done right.


How to fix it: Before you think about what you need, think about why you need it and who you're asking. Who you're talking to will impact how you give directions--some people prefer step-by-step written instructions, others need to talk it through face to face. Try and provide instructions at least two different ways for a new task (i.e. face to face and via email), and always explain the reason behind a task.


3. Only Communicating Via Text or Email


34% of those surveyed were frustrated that their leaders "refused to talk to people on the phone [or] in person." There's not a lot to say here other than "Wow." Email is usually more convenient for the sender, but it's not necessarily more effective for the recipient.



How to fix it: Make sure you are aware of the communication preferences of those around you. Acknowledge that not everyone prefers email or communicates how you communicate, and make an effort to meet in the middle (or meet for coffee). Face-time is still crucial when it comes to building relationships and trust with employees and coworkers in today's workplace.



4. Forgetting that Employees Have Lives Outside of Work


Do you know what your coworkers are doing this weekend? Not asking about employees's lives outside of work is another key complaint about ineffective leaders--it implies that you don't care about your employees as people, just that they get their work done.



How to fix it: We understand that some people prefer to leave work at work and home at home, but even a simple "Are you doing anything fun this weekend?" goes a long way in showing employees you value and care about them. Take a few minutes at the end of your Friday meeting, or catch folks on their way out, to see what your employees are up to this weekend--you'll learn things you never knew about your team members!


Of the nine areas listed, we only picked a handful to share, but you can see the whole list here. Let us know what you think on social media!

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About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day.

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