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3 common leadership pitfalls – and how to avoid them

CultureMay 19, 2016

3 common leadership pitfalls – and how to avoid them (Last Updated On: September 11, 2018)

The way that leaders conduct themselves has a direct effect on employees and subsequently, a business’s productivity. Staff who work under a poor leader may feel discouraged and unappreciated, which in turn can damage company culture and make it seem an undesirable place to work.

Research has shown that a leader who is knowledgeable about the individuals who make up their team are the most effective in building teams who work productively together and have high employee motivation.

So what leadership styles negatively impact a working environment?

The micromanager.

Most likely everyone has experienced being micromanaged and found it to be highly unpleasant. Micromanagers struggle to release control over projects and tasks, and as such, feel the need to dictate every possible aspect of an employee’s role. When faced with an extreme micromanager, an employee may feel afraid to produce work without management approval, or suffer from high levels of workplace stress.

As a leader, it can be difficult to strike the right balance of involvement in an individual’s day to day tasks, particularly with less experienced employees.

Employees function better when they are given as much ownership over a role as possible, and they can manage their own time and daily tasks. To avoid micromanagement, employers should ensure they give their team clear goals and timelines for projects that need to be completed. From here, it is reasonable to check in as regularly as necessary to check progress of the project, and whether the employee needs any support.

Unless there is an exact procedure that needs to be followed, there is often no need to dictate and become overly involved in the small steps an employee takes to get the desired result. It can take time to build up trust in employees but micro management can be counterproductive in building this trust.

The workplace bully.

It goes without saying that it is never acceptable to bully staff. Not only do bully bosses experience high staff turnovers, they could face claims and fines for bullying behaviours. Bullying is defined as repeated unreasonable behaviour between a worker and a manager or between co-workers, which creates a risk to their health and safety. Unfortunately, some individuals don’t understand that due to the power inbalance between employer and employee, actions that may not be considered bullying between friends – may be considered bullying in the workplace.

Most people would understand that being aggressive, intimidating or humiliating is wrong, but how about teasing, practical jokes, placing unreasonable expectations in an employee’s work? If these activities occur on a regular basis, they could be considered bullying.

Employers also have a legal obligation to take steps to prevent or minimise the risks of bullying and harassment at work, so should have a clear policy in place and ensure it is enforced fairly.

The leader who doesn’t listen.

A leader who does not have a handle on how the workplace runs, including team roles and responsibilities is detrimental to a business. In order to understand how the team functions and to be able to provide the necessary support and training, leaders must listen to the concerns and feedback of their team. Rather than dictate to your employees, involve them in solutions – when employees feel heard and valued, they will be far happier and more productive.

Although running a small business is very time consuming, don’t forget to invest time in your employees, without them, your business will not grow. Taking the time to find out what motivates each team member means you can encourage them to perform at their best.

Employsure’s tips for being a great leader.

Don’t try to do everything.

Running a business can be stressful and great leaders know how to delegate and when to say ‘no’. It is understandable for employers to want to control everything, but there are a variety of professional services available to lighten the load. From workplace relations specialists to external payroll services, outsourcing is an ideal way to free up time to focus on building a business and being a great leader. Trying to do everything yourself is not just impossible, and will have a negative effect on personal wellbeing.

Make your business work for you.

One of the great advantages about being a business owner is having more flexibility over the schedule. Wherever possible, employers should schedule tasks to gain some time out. Whether it is spending time with family more often or more exercise, taking the time to de-stress is vital for every business owner.

Be humble.

Think of the leaders you admire, often they are both charismatic and humble. Although all employers have to make unpopular decisions from time to time, humility goes a long way in ensuring a team respects you as a leader and remains committed to the company vision. Communicate frequently with employees and share plans for the direction of the business, if employees don’t know the company vision, they can’t run with it.

Seek advice.

Regardless of preparation, owning a business will always be challenging for employers when things don’t go according to plan. Reaching out to mentors and utilising workplace relations specialists can help solve difficult situations. When you fail, learn from your mistakes and seek advice about how to get back on track. Sharing failures with others in a business network can be a great way to get support.

Never stop learning.

Great leaders have one thing in common – a growth mindset. Making the effort to upskill personally and professionally can help a business flourish. Regardless of personal experience, seek out mentors for professional guidance, and build a strong network by attending industry events and training courses wherever available. It is also important to remember that customers will always have a lot to teach you as a business owner, and you should be constantly learning from them, ultimately tweaking your business to better serve them.

Having a leader who encourages a positive workplace culture is important to a business’s success. If you have any questions relating to how to best manage your employees, or understanding your obligations as an employer, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415, or book a Free Workplace Check here.

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