Leaders often try to hide their weaknesses. It is a common mistake to believe that you have to appear infallible, especially to members of staff. Some leaders correct their own errors without realising that learning from errors is what great leaders do.
Whilst it may be understandable why some leaders want people to perceive them as competent at all times, the fact remains – they are human. Mistakes are bound to happen.
The reason is that everyone has their own weaknesses. The good news is that many of these weaknesses can be transformed into strengths, not so you will be infallible, but to be able to perform your role as a leader even better.
Be honest with yourself
The considered view by trainers at The Development Company is that everyone has the capacity for leadership. In order to reach your potential, however, you need to do a thorough self-evaluation. Menlo Coaching advocate being honest with yourself, and reflect not just on your successes, but on your failures as well. In doing so, you can assess each problem and find the root issue. Taking corrective steps later on to prevent the same issues from happening again will lessen the negative impact.
Find your leadership style
Being honest with yourself means discovering what kind of leader you are. Fast Company lists three types of Leaders. The key is to recognise and correct your weak traits. They also recommend sharing your leadership qualities – both your strengths and weaknesses – and empower them to approach you if you have made any mistakes. Scheduling regular feedback sessions with each individual will enable you to receive objective feedback on your behaviour as their leader.
The first type of leader is the ‘fixer’. The Fixer leader aims for excellence, and is so detail-oriented that they run the risk of being a micromanager. They can come across as someone who doesn’t trust their employees to do their jobs properly. Leaders who have a tendency to have this behaviour will need to learn to manage their urge to be in control all the time. It is important to take a step back in order to let your staff perform their tasks, and learn through mistakes.
Another type of leader is the ‘fighter’, who imagine all sorts of ideas to improve the organisation. Unfortunately, leaders belonging to this type can send their employees to pursue their ideas without thinking through if their concepts actually are feasible. Their behaviour may also be mercurial so much so that they may end up dropping one idea in favour of another, effectively sending their staff on wild goose chases. Fighters need to learn how to be more self-disciplined, and selective about which projects to pursue.
The last type of leader is the ‘friend’, the one who wants to be nice to every member of their staff. As a result, they may end up unable to make tough decisions for their team or discuss poor performance because they want a friendly relationship. They may abecome pushovers, because they care more about building relationships than pursuing team goals. Whilst being nice is not a bad trait, Leaders with the ‘Friend’ traits need to ensure they accept accountability for their behaviours of their staff, and not be overprotective. They also need to learn that you can have difficult discussions with people, and remain friendly.
Be responsive to teammates
A common complaint of employees is that their Leader doesn’t listen to them. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a key trait of good leaders, and it is vital for effective collaboration. Leaders with high EI have a higher success rate than leaders with low EI. All of us can develop they core skills of EI.
Continue to learn
All leaders will find themselves facing the risk of stagnancy in their career (Business News Daily). This is a serious dilemma, more so if your company is involved in a dynamic industry that prospers from constant innovation. In order to offset this problem, leaders should take it upon themselves to continuous learning. Every great Leader seeks feedback not only from their team, but from clients and stakeholders of the company as well.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”. John F. Kennedy
About the Author
Jen VB has over 10 years of experience in human resources. As a career development coach, she believes that all people are born with leadership skills – and it’s just a matter of unlocking these qualities. She blogs in her spare time about a number of topics including HR, fashion and golf.