How to avoid becoming an evil oppressor: mistakes to avoid as a leader

How to avoid becoming an evil oppressor: mistakes to avoid as a leader

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Tyrants, dictators, evil genius. All these terms and more come to mind when you think of leaders in your life who you would rather never have to follow again. There is definitely a way to lead and a way not to lead. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid as a leader so you don’t get labeled a cruel authoritarian despot.

Lack of integrity- Here’s when you know you are lacking integrity. Everything is about you. Crisis that inevitably hit your organization affect YOU more than anyone. YOU are hiding secrets that you don’t think others can handle. Successes are because of what YOU did. YOU don’t follow through on even half of the things you promise to do. If you are truly honest and identify with even one of these statements stop and question your motives. Find a trusted mentor to be transparent with and develop a personal growth plan for transforming your character as a leader.

Majoring in Minor Things- This is one of Tony Robbin’s basic principles for success. If you are constantly in the weeds with details that do not absolutely pertain to the mission, vision, and the plan for your business than you are possibly putting your business at risk to not being a business at all. When you find yourself too involved in the muckety muck take a step back and figure out who has the best skill set to handle these day to day mundane. Re-define what your roles and responsibilities are and stick to your wheelhouse to help your organization grow.

Improperly delegate work- Too often leaders create a control team environment of mistrust that doesn’t allow enough time for properly training team members on their roles and responsibilities. Or perhaps leaders think they are delegating a task but they only delegate part of the responsibility or insist on everything being done how they would do it. Strong leaders realize to properly delegate clearly communicating the expected outcome goes a long way to success. Work with them to establish controls, deadlines, and lines of communication. Focus on the results not the process or procedure.

Communicate poorly- Leaders who are routinely inconsistent with their communication breed conditions of mistrust. Your team may be very hesitant to take action if the task or responsibility if communication is clouded in arrogance or lack of confidence. Leaders cannot afford to be poor communicators. Communication can be improved when leaders move from monologues without feedback to encouraging dialogue and conversations with open responses. In addition, prepare for conversations beforehand. Think through how you can say what needs to be said in the most precise and concise manner with specific clarity.

Not Making Time for Relationships- The days of leaders living day to day in ivory towers are over. Isolation leads to teams and departments silo-ing away, Soon information becomes backlogged and effective decision making goes away much less morale and comradery. Exceptional leaders realize the need to give consistently in relationships and expect less in return. They understand the need not only to give praise but to act that praise as well. Strong leaders realize that every relationship no matter how momentary has real value. Take time to intentionally treat people the way you want to be treated, with kindness, respect, and consideration.

But it hurts to think: Three tips to start thinking strategically

But it hurts to think: Three tips to start thinking strategically

You might be thinking to yourself… “I am a relatively intelligent person. I have a college degree. I was actually able to dress, feed, and drive myself to work today without my mother’s input. People seem to think I am in charge. Then why, oh why can’t I figure out how to make this work?”

Business and organization leaders come to us time and time again with the same scenario. Like you, they know they can grow their business and they are able to for a short time. Then the wheels keep falling off the wagon and they are forced to pick up the pieces and try a different direction.

Because everything feels like it could fall into the crisis mode there is simply not enough time nor energy to slow the pace down, take a step back, and think strategically. It’s important to note that strategic thinking is different from strategic planning. They do work together, in fact, strategic thinking informs the strategic plan while the strategic plan gives action to the strategic thinking. Thinking strategically goes beyond thinking about what is right in front of you. Learning to think strategically allows you the freedom to envision what could be and formulate solid plans to take your business to the next level. Strategic thinking allows you the opportunity to see what challenges and opportunities lie ahead and formulate a plan of how to slay both.

Here are three tips to keep your brain and your business from imploding using Strategic Thinking.

Schedule it: We know that that scary “S word” can make most founders and entrepreneurs roll their eyes and squirm in their seats. The very thought of having to fit in a tiny box inside yet another calendar box literally makes you want to break out of the box. However, do yourself a favor as well as your team and share the wealth of your strengths. Create that thinking space at least once a month to reflect, research, ideate and dream, not to “do” things like putting out the latest fire. Limit your accessibility, turn off phone notifications, and possibly have these strategic thinking sessions off-site or at least outdoors to allow for uninterrupted, non-panicked thought.

Develop a curious mindset: Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa Leadership often writes about leaders developing a “T” shape. Lees writes “T-Shaped” leaders are interdisciplinary: they are broad and deep thinkers, curious and empathetic about other people’s disciplines. The horizontal part of the “T” represents the breadth of understanding connections across a business and/or industry. The vertical part of the “T” represents the depth of understanding and expertise in a particular business area.” As leaders in our various organizations, we need to do more in assessing our current business model and organization by developing a healthy curiosity through observing our team and employees. Strategic Thinking starts with asking questions rather than always having the answer. Develop a curious almost playful mindset and set out to discover by asking questions such as:

  • “How does work really get done around here?”
  • “What works well and why? What doesn’t?”
  • “Do we know what our customers really think about us?”
  • “What values are displayed most often?”
  • “Do employees understand our mission and strategic priorities and connect them with their work?”

Use the whole melon: Strategic thinking is about creating connections, identifying trends, and eventually making a plan that leads to effective and efficient decisions. Strategic Thinking actually requires two types of thinking: divergent thinking, where we take a look from 30,000 feet and see what ideas are triggered, and convergent thinking, where we start to land a little closer to land and arrange those ideas in a reasonable fashion. Research states that the most innovative thinkers have the ability to rapidly switch between these two styles. One technique is to assume six different perspectives around topics. You can really make strategic thinking sessions rich and meaningful by including your team members in those six different views.

In the end, Strategic Thinking isn’t just in spawning a bunch of ideas: it’s about building a framework that can grow your business, keep your organization moving forward, and making you a stronger leader to achieve long-term success.