A lot of Leaders don’t know it but they are silently killing their Leadership brand every single time they take a breath. Loss of respect, uninterested employees, HR complaints, low morale, poor productivity, these are all symptoms of a Leader who is killing their leadership brand.
What is your leadership brand? It’s your leadership personality. It’s what your employees, colleagues, bosses and others think about you when they think of you as leader. It’s what your known for, essentially, it’s your reputation as a leader.
More times than not, a leader’s perception of their own leadership brand is far different than the perception others have. A no brainier, right? It’s also true that leaders with weak or dying leadership brands are often the loudest and most arrogant among the group. Is that you? Could be, depending on who you ask.
Good thing you’re here because I’m going to give you 3 things to stop doing RIGHT NOW, yes, RIGHT NOW because they are KILLING your Leadership brand.
1. Taking all the credit. No one likes a show boat and EVERYONE hates the person with"ALL” the great ideas who really never had an idea in the first place. It’s one thing to genuinely be innovative and creative but it’s something horrifying when you feed off the ideas of others to create something and then take all the credit.
You know the leader who always talks about the great new strategies the team has implemented to get a better result and every single strategy has solely been their idea? Or what about the leader who listens to a great idea from an employee just to respond with a story about how they tried that before or how they were moments away from announcing that very same thing? Yup. That leader.
Listen, if that sounds like you don’t worry, there’s hope. We all have a need to feel significant and to feel like we’re making generous contributions to help the team reach success. This may sound a bit crazy but as a leader, it’s far more impactful when you give the credit away to your team and position your wins as a product of your team.
Think about it. What does that say about you as a leader if you are giving your employees space to be creative, a platform to try their ideas and then grand recognition when the idea brings the team success? It says loud and clear that you are more interested in helping your employees grow, learn and build their confidence. Nothing screams GREAT LEADER louder than your employees growing under your leadership and showing no fear when it comes to expressing new ideas, putting them into practice and doing their part to advance the company’s mission.
2. Lack of Follow up. This is one of the worst. Almost nothing tanks your leadership credibility faster than being known as the leader who doesn’t follow up or keep their promises. Your employees are not asking for you to take on more than you can handle. They are not asking for you to be overwhelmed or for you to be frustrated by your crazy hectic work load.
All they simply require is that you respect them enough to do what you promised. If you’re in a call center and you promised to call their customer back, make the call back and provide follow up. If you’re on a busy sales floor and you promised to email some information regarding the new inventory, send the email.
If your employee has to miss time from work unexpectedly and you promised to check the schedule to see what arrangements can be made, check the schedule and follow up with the employee. Follow up doesn’t mean that your answer will be “yes” or that the situation will work out in favor of the employee, follow up means that your word is worth something and that when you say you’re going to do something, you will be involved.
Even if you can’t do what you originally promised or if the plan has to change, following up will ensure that your employee is aware of where the situation stands and they build confidence that if they come to you for something, it’s not a waste of time. Many employee escalations and complaints to upper management and HR are a result of poor follow up.
Most of these issues wouldn’t even be issues if the Leader would have kept the light on instead of having the employee walk around in the dark. Keep the lights on, your employees deserve to know where their issue stands and your leadership brand will have a hard time recovering once you’re known as the “black hole”.
3. Don’t play favorites. Come on, we’re all human so let’s be real. We have our favorites. Simple as that. Some employees are a joy to work with, they make the job easier and it’s a blessing to have them in our space, others, not so much. While this may be the case, your leadership brand dies a little more every time you’re playing favorites and it’s obvious. Even the favorite employee may give you a side eye if they are emotional intelligent and understand how your behavior could be potentially damaging to the unfavorite.
While it may be tempting to give all the rewarding and likable duties to your favorite, resist the urge to do so. While everyone won’t always agree with “how” you do things, you’re more likely to get a positive result if they understand “why” you do things. If your favorite happens to be the best in terms of skills set and talent for the duty everyone wants, explain why you’re deciding to assign the duty to your favorite and offer an opportunity for the others to learn the skills or develop the talent.
This may seem simple but it will save you from HR complaints stemming from favoritism because you’ve communicated your “why” and like it or not, your decision was a business decision and not a personal one. I don’t believe in treating everyone the same so if you subscribe to that mindset I’m the wrong person to ask for Leadership advice. I believe in treating people according to your relationship with them and as the leader you should have a positive relationship with everyone regardless of their performance, personal views or anything else that may be factor.
As the leader, you control the relationship and you control the tone of that relationship. I’ve been in leadership sessions with leaders where they’ve allowed the relationship between themselves and an employee to become strained and therefore creating an HR nightmare waiting to happen. Not only is this pure destruction for your leadership brand, it creates unnecessary tension in your work environment and could project negative energy onto the other employees.
A good tip here is, your least favorite employee should feel like they are your favorite employee. This doesn’t mean be fake or be over the top nice with your least favorite it just means make them feel special. Not in a way that highlights their poor performance or bad habits, rather, by taking notice of something they do right or something totally unrelated to the job. This will require you as the leader to put your personal feelings aside, abandon all biases and find ways to show kindness, appreciation and generosity.
Not only will this go a long way in saving your leadership brand from being tarnished by the game of favorites, but you’ll also find that those performance and behavior conversations will be much easier to have because now the employee will know that none of it is personal and that business is just business.
I would love to keep this conversation going with you and hear your thoughts on the topic so please send me an email or leave a comment. Learning continues when the conversation flows.
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