Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
To be a successful leader, it is important to help your employees grow. Because new hires are the future of your organization, it is critical to train them well and empower them to become successful in their role as well as within your organization. Not everyone understands intuitively how to lead. Here are some common errors that even the most well-intentioned leader can make and what you should avoid in your own leadership role.
Micromanaging. Too many leaders say that to do something well, they have to do it themselves. (A client of ours who is a sales manager just said this to me the other day; she has a hard time letting go.) While doing it yourself may sometimes be true, that attitude does not benefit your employees or your department in the long run. If you are constantly re-checking and re-doing their work or not giving them the opportunity to take on a challenge, it stifles their enthusiasm, their creativity, and their ability to learn on their own and as a result, everyone will feel stressed out in addition to not growing in their role.
What to do instead: Trust your employees. Take the time to explain what you need and expect of them clearly before handing them an assignment. Then let them approach the project in a way that makes sense for them. As long as you get the result you need, things will be fine. There are many ways of doing the same thing, and none of them are wrong. Resist the urge to check in. Allow them to make their own mistakes sometimes. Check their work only when you really need to or at the end of the project before it’s handed to the client.
Being Mechanical. It is important to stay on track with projects and goals. But it’s also important to recognize that your employees spend a little over a third of their week at work and they need to feel comfortable and like they belong to a team. If your employees feel like they are just there to push papers, they won’t last long because they won’t feel valued and engaged.
What to do instead: While every company and industry has its own culture, ask yourself if you are helping to cultivate the culture you want to create. One where your employees feel like they can share ideas, laugh, are challenged and feel valued. If you feel you should make adjustments to have a more open office culture, think of one thing you can do this week to make your employees feel appreciated.
Not Mentoring. Don’t let the word “mentor” scare you. You don’t have to be an official mentor to be a mentor to your employees. The definition of a mentor is someone who advises and trains. A successful leader should do both. Encourage your employees to seek mentors outside of your organization as well, but realize that to be a solid leader you need to take this approach with them in addition to assigning tasks or managing their projects.
What to do instead: Provide consistent, specific feedback to your employees. Let them know what they’re doing well, and what needs improvement. Help them to see how they can do their job better. Work together with them to find solutions by asking them questions. Find out what motivates them and what their strengths are, then leverage those so they can be their most productive. It may take a little more time in your schedule, but it will pay off in the long run.