Eight deadly sins of leadership

What has happened to enthusiasm in the workplace?          

For many employees, it has seemingly disappeared. They gripe and mutter about their frustrations at work. You hear them complain about managers – and to be fair, managers complain about them. Both complain about the company.        

In many businesses, everything seems out of whack? The company has one agenda, the worker has another and the manager can’t mesh the two. Core competencies fail to support the company vision.  Worse, company policies and procedures impair efficiency rather that help get the work done in a timely manner. Everyone but the worker doing the job defines the way it should be done, and quality improvement means doing more faster rather than doing less more profitably.          

Sadly, many companies today operate in an atmosphere of distrust where corporate loyalty no longer exists, not to mention “fun” on the job.          

What’s going wrong?          

That’s the million-dollar question. For the answer, we can turn to a boatload of self-help books that tell us how to do things right. But sometimes learning what can go wrong so we can determine how to avoid these problems is just as valuable.         

Beginning with five people-management transgressions, here are eight deadly sins of leadership for your consideration:           

1) Assuming your employees know the company’s objectives and purpose.

You have a vision and a great plan in place. Now who will implement it?          

Even the best plan is worthless if it’s misunderstood or your employees—at all levels—fail to embrace it. After all, your workforce powers your plan.          

For success, integrate your strategic workforce planning into your business planning.

2) Approaching selection and hiring in a haphazard manner.

Hiring employees in a haphazard manner is like drawing to an inside straight in poker. Odds are you’ll lose. Statistics show you will hire a less-than-stellar worker 86 percent of the time if you use poor hiring practices. Worse, without careful hiring practices, you could get sued.

If you want your odds to improve, use pre-employment screening. Although rigorous interviews and background checks can help you form an accurate picture of past behavior, pre-employment screening is a better predictor of future behavior. It assesses attitudes toward integrity, substance abuse, reliability and work ethic.

3) Not training your employees.

Training to ensure that your employees have the right knowledge and skills to get the job done is fundamental to a company’s continued efficient and profitable performance. Yet some companies overlook training, often because of the expense.          

It’s true training costs money. But failing to develop your people’s talents, wastes resources.         

If you truly believe your employees are your number one asset, give them the training they need to do their jobs. Think of creative ways to develop employees so they grow, and stay on the job and with your company.

4) Failing to provide appropriate feedback.

We’ve talked before about engaging employees, and how important communication and appropriate feedback is to helping engaged employees stay that way.          

Unfortunately companies and their employees often disagree about the effectiveness of feedback in their companies. In a recent Salary.com study of 2,000 employees and 330 HR professionals, two thirds of companies believe their performance reviews are effective while only 39 percent of employees agree.

Make sure you and your employees see eye to eye on the effectiveness of your evaluation processes. Giving meaningful, constructive feedback through performance reviews and conversations during the course of daily activities boosts employee engagement and performance, and their career development.

5) Treating employees as a commodity.

Any company that has experienced the high cost of employee turnover understands its toll: replacement costs, loss of productivity and decreased morale.         

Treat employees like a commodity and they will respond in kind: They’ll leave as soon as possible for the next best offer.

Your bonus: three business management sins

So there you have them: five deadly “people” leadership sins. Now here, as a bonus, are three business management mistakes:

6) Failing to evaluate and measure.

It’s easy to fall into the “business-as-usual” habit—that is, performing tasks by rote or doing things the same way simply because that is the way we have always done them.         

Yet rarely, can we meet changing customer needs by doing “business as usual.”          

To avoid this trap, continually assess your business’ activities. Are they necessary and relevant? Track them to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. Further, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

7) Assuming you are doing a good job and your customers are happy.

Are your customers happy? Have you asked? Assuming customer satisfaction simply because you have had no complaints, will most likely give you a false sense of security.          

Use mechanisms to encourage customer feedback. Carefully listen to and act on that feedback.

8) Not marketing.

Marketing and its related disciplines, public relations, research and advertising, identify new markets, communicate to prospects and clients, and establish your brand and message. In other words, marketing works hand-in-hand with sales.         

Unfortunately, many companies do not understand this marketing and sales relationship.         

Failure to pursue marketing strategies handicaps your ability to compete. Even if you have an excellent sales force, you should actively market your business.

Feedback and responding to it are keys to
correcting leadership ills

Now tell me. Do any of these “deadly sins” look familiar? Have you seen them in your company?

If so, it’s probably time to “regroup.” Your company’s success depends upon effective leadership. But how in the world do you get effective leadership where it’s lacking today?

It’s not as tough as you might think. Correcting leadership ills begins with simply identifying what they are, and you’ll find tools to help with that process in the marketplace.

With these tools, you can provide your leaders with feedback from people who observe their performance—their supervisors, employees and peers. The objective is to gather specific, job-related information they can use to make positive changes. And then, with the self-knowledge they gain from his feedback, they can:

     • Improve their performance.
     • Identify training needs. 
     • Improve their leadership, goal setting, interpersonal and organizational skills.
     • Increase their leadership accountability.

Of course, your leaders must be open to this feedback and willing to respond positively. Given this willingness, however, feedback tools can positively impact their individual growth and your organization’s success.

To prosper—even survive—companies must constantly rethink the way they do things.  Begin your own evaluation process soon. Then turn the above deadly sins into positive action to leverage your new leadership practices.

You’ll soon discover a new, enthusiastic workplace. Your people will have fun on the job again. They’ll like what they do and do it well. Corporate loyalty will return and so will rising profits.



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