For every success, there is an epic failure. Those leaders who achieved greatness did so not because of their success stories, but because the lessons in failure that they learned and applied to create those success stories. In other words, leaders find “right” only after navigating through a storm cloud of “wrong.”
Before assuming the reins of your next venture, run through the following checklist of no-no’s from mistakes made by others — so you don’t have to:
1. Setting a tense tone. Stress and tension are no fun, and how a leader chooses to show up everyday is everything. Positive or negative, cordial or rude, your people will embrace and spread “you,” intentionally or not.
Relationships can go two ways. And if a relationship isn’t working, it’s so tempting — and so easy — to look across the table to find the problem. But the problem may be you.As a business owner, if your staff is lackadaisical and underperforming, it’s time to evaluate whether you can be doing a better job as a manager. After all, a team is only as efficient, productive and happy as its leader.
Officevibe, a company dedicated to improving corporate culture through gamification, put together an infographic summarizing what makes a good boss. From always being positive to always being honest, even when it’s hard, take a look at the infographic below for an overview of the fundamental personality traits shared by good managers.
Leadership isn’t about your title, nor is it about bossing others around. Being a strong leader means thinking about the teams’ needs before your own, helping other people to grow and maximize their own full potential, and sharing credit when it’s due (and shouldering blame as needed, too). Why do you need to wait to get a promotion to start doing any of this? You don’t – that’s the good news, so start today. The more qualities of a leader that you begin to exhibit, the more obvious a choice you’ll be for the actual promotion down the road. By positioning yourself as someone who’s ready to take on more (after having proven yourself over a longer period of time), you’ll be hard to ignore. Plus, over time, you’ll have benefited your overall team with your efforts – this makes it a personal and collective win.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
“The surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn how, and when, and to whom to delegate work,” said James Cash Penney, founder of the J.C. Penney retail chain.
When you grow, you have to know when to let go. You have to know when to delegate down so you can rise up. I’ve learned that people will seldom let you down if they understand that your destiny is in their hands, and vice versa.
The inability to delegate properly is the main reason that executives fail. But managers often mistake delegation for passing off work. So they don’t do it–and they wind up wasting their time as well as the company’s time and resources.
Women who are capable of starting growth companies that serve global markets may be the nation’s secret weapon for achieving sustained economic growth.
Research shows that startup companies – particularly high-growth startups – are the most fruitful source of new U.S. jobs and offer the economy’s best hope for recovery. However, despite the fact that about 46 percent of the workforce and more than 50 percent of college students are female, and that women have risen to top positions in corporate and university hierarchies, they represent only about 35 percent of startup business owners. Their firms also tend to experience less growth and prosperity than do firms started by men.
We reward the right answer. Getting the right answer leads to correct decisions and actions. Being accurate and correct is a requirement of success. But sometimes our focus on getting the right answer blocks our discovering the wrong one. Sometimes, these wrong answers reveal weaknesses in our companies before they manifest as lost sales or unhappy customers.
Often, the people we work with are afraid to report information that doesn’t meet expectations. No one wants to be seen as a naysayer or as working against the team. People will bury negative information in details, ignore it or, worst of all, hide it. Yet, it is the information that we don’t expect that many times tell us what we really need to know.
Information designer Edward Tufte famously made the case that the PowerPoint presentations used to discuss the shuttle Columbia foam strike were actually the primary cause of the destruction of the craft on re-entry. Statements minimizing the risk appeared at the top of slides in bigger fonts, with the information, supported by many e-mails and conversations about the danger of returning with tile damage, appearing in smaller fonts at the bottom of slides. The unpleasant facts hid in plain sight and seven lives and a billion dollars were lost. To be clear, the PowerPoint slides only provide evidence of a culture that avoided unexpected or unwanted information.
Understanding that all data, including what you didn’t expect to find, is equal is one of the main lessons from the Columbia shuttle disaster.