by Steve Adubato, PhD
Leadership is a complicated craft. There have been countless books and scholarly articles written on the subject. There are leadership gurus like Tom Peters and now America's Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Yet, when you talk to most leaders, you find out that a lot of what they've learned about leadership has come through the mistakes they or those around them have made. Simply put, leadership involves a lot of trial and error. With that in mind, consider the following seven deadly sins of leadership:
Micromanaging. Attention to detail is one thing, but hovering over your people once you've given them an assignment is quite another. Too many managers are convinced that no one can do a job better than they can so they hold on way too tight. This is a big mistake because while you are micromanaging your people, lots of strategic opportunities are being missed. Plus, your people get demotivated.
Surrounding yourself with "yes" men and women. Sure, it makes your ego feel good to have people kiss your butt, but this has a terrible effect on the decisions you make. Leaders need to be challenged and sometimes criticized by those around them. It's healthy and normal. Someone has to tell the emperor he has no clothes on.
Poor listening. Too many managers think they have all the answers or lack the patience to be good listeners. Big mistake. When your people come to realize that you are not listening to them, they begin to shut down and stop making suggestions and being straight with you. If you think you have all the answers, think again. No one does.
Not acknowledging or thanking their people. Some people in top positions are either too self-absorbed or just assume their people know that they are doing a good job. Leaders who don't get in to the habit of saying "nice job" to their people run the risk of alienating productive employees. No matter how talented or secure, everyone needs to be thanked and acknowledged. Leaders who ignore this pay a heavy price.
Not growing and learning. Some managers stop reading, researching, going to seminars and refuse to be open to new ideas or ways of doing things. This can be out of laziness or once again thinking you have all the answers. Leaders who stop growing and learning get stale very quickly. There is always a new approach or idea to dealing with difficult or challenging problems. Being closed-minded is very dangerous for any leader.
Not being candid with employees. People know times are tough and sometimes leaders have to make very tough decisions like laying people off, forgoing bonuses and cutting back on perks. When leaders refuse to be up front or sugarcoat these painful facts of life, they lose credibility. Being a leader is not a constant popularity contest. In the end, a leader must have the respect of his or her people, even if they are not happy with some of your decisions.
Running really boring and uninspiring meetings. Come on, you know it's true. If your boss runs a meeting that is rambling and unfocused where he or she does all the talking and nothing is accomplished, how do you feel? Running effective meetings is one of a leaders most important jobs. To take that responsibility lightly is a big mistake.