3 leadership myths no one wants to discuss
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Instead of looking at a checklist of things you need to become a better leader or manager, this article will explore often misunderstood leadership advice. Here's a quick look at three myths people are constantly told.
1. Surround yourself with experts
Leaders are told to hire people smarter than them; this is often misunderstood. Having an overqualified staff can either lead to retention issues or an unstable relationship between the subordinate and supervisor.
It is important for both staff and management to have stretch goals, aspirations and motivation to succeed — just not at the other's expense. What will help us succeed is to fill our teams with people who have deep knowledge of the practices, protocols, methods or knowledge specific to our work who also want to get better at what they do either by deepening or broadening their knowledge.
As leaders, we can facilitate this continued growth by providing opportunities for staff to stretch a bit out of their comfort zone. Fostering their development will benefit the team's success, inspire loyalty and help us to continue to grow as leaders.
2. Good leaders work long hours
Many leaders who have been promoted through the ranks worked hard to get there. The next struggle is the shift from becoming an expert, individual contributor to a generalist director or facilitator.
The former may require long hours of deep dives into specific projects. The latter is going to require management of staff who work long hours on specific projects. It is a different skill set.
And while these leaders are often the best because they can understand the challenges staff faces, not everyone makes it through the transition successfully. We have to understand and accept the fact that we do not have the luxury of spending long hours on one project but rather must divide our time among all the major projects for which our teams are responsible.
Further, we cannot afford to spend time working on the actual tasks as much as guiding, directing and supporting those who are. It is a significant shift, and it starts with acknowledging the long hours we spent on work before cannot be spent the same way.
3. Be a servant leader
A critical component of successful leadership is the ability to support and inspire staff. Our teams need a way to relate to us, to know we understand what they face and to find something in us that inspires them to follow us.
While this may sometimes entail getting in the trenches and rolling up our sleeves, that is not always the answer. As referenced in the two items above, it is quite important to maintain the line between leadership and staff. Our teams must always know why we are in charge and not them.
The challenge is finding ways to show our value as leaders not just tell our team we are in charge. Whether we find ways to make their jobs easier, support their success, provide expertise or guidance or deliver critical feedback, there are things about our roles that differentiate us from our team. We have to remember them and act like a leader.
In short: Build a team that needs you as much as you need them, remember why you are in charge and lead them to success.
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