Good leadership makes for good business in many ways. Good leaders can pass on insight, experience, and vision to those who work for them. However, becoming a good leader and developing leadership within a business is not always so easy. In fact, it can be downright confusing. There is all kinds of advice out there for being a good leader, including many tried methods that people accept as working universally, but these are often contradictory. Here are a few popular leadership techniques and mindsets that you should think twice about before implementing them at your business.
1.) Leadership is one size fits all
Leadership is leadership, and will be leadership no matter where you go. False. Leadership is a culture that varies from business to business and within different industries. You don’t want to just adapt whatever leadership techniques and strategies are thrown at you by 3rd party advisors, leadership training summits, or TED Talks. Come up with a leadership culture and strategy based around your own company's values. Forbes Contributor Josh Bersin notes that successful companies like Cisco and IBM develop their own unique leadership philosophies that they are not afraid to alter or transform as their company develops. Bersin says it is important to change your values and techniques with your business as it changes to keep your company leadership up to date and cohesive.
2.) Leadership starts that the top and works its way down
You want to build your leadership structure from the bottom up. Once you have outlined your company's leadership philosophy, begin training mid-level managers and employees, the core of your business, keeping it in mind. This will ensure that the culture and solid leadership designed for your business permeates the entire company. This can solve two issues that Bersin points out. One, if the high-up management changes, and a new CEO is brought in, the core structure of leadership is not compromised throughout the entire company. Employees will still know the company mission, and what techniques they should embrace to achieve that mission. Two, if leadership at the very top of the company--the president or CEO--does not stress their own leadership goals and strategies enough to push it down through the ranks of the entire company, the majority of the business will still have a guide for what strategies to use. A bottom-up approach ensures that whatever personnel changes occur, the philosophy can still thrive.
3.) A person in a position of leadership has seen it all
People often assume that team leaders or higher ups got there because they know everything. They have seen it all, and know what the best course of action is in every situation. Leaders may in fact be very smart, have a lot of experience, and be perceived this way by their employees. However, it is important that leaders don’t perceive themselves this way. Leaders should be willing to listen to new ideas presented by their employees in order to solve a problem or implement an innovation. They should know that they are not the only one in the room with creative solutions, and should look to gain as much knowledge from their employees as they impart. If a leader appears to be a know it all, who won’t take advice from those who work for him or her, they may not really be a leader at all.
4.) Micro-managing is bad
Well yes, it is. No one wants to work for someone who does not trust them to get the job done themselves, who is checking-in every step of the way, and essentially doing the project themselves. However, leaders should be aware of what their employees are doing. The lesson from this isn’t to micro-manage, rather, have clear channels of communication. An effective leader isn’t overbearing, but communicates exactly what needs to be done by their employees so they can focus on their own work without having to worry that an assignment or task was lost in translation.
5.) There are always exceptions
There are many leadership rules that are considered definite. However, they should not necessarily be implemented all the time. John Brandon outlines a few of these strategies that are often used by leaders, such as empowering your employees, asking for feedback, listening to others’ ideas on how to do something differently, etc. These are all valuable characteristics that have their place, but being a good leader is also about producing results. Don’t be overly concerned about always following through on these criteria when there is a looming deadline, or long term goal to be considered. Make a plan, assign the tasks, and execute.
In short, leadership is dynamic and changing based upon company values and goals. There are not necessarily any hard rules that can be followed, but using their own techniques, a good leader will adapt, learn, teach, and produce results.
Amanda McGuinness is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly. A social media expert and avid writer, she believes in creating fresh, creative content to build brand awareness.