“Leadership is a choice, it is not a rank.”
That’s a quote from one of the best TED Talks from Simon Sinek, a management theorist and a top speaker on all things leadership. To break it down for you, it means that being a leader and having authority are two completely different things.
One might be an authoritative figure, but that doesn’t mean he or she encompasses leadership. Others listen to them because they are afraid of suffering the consequences if they don’t do what their told but they would never, ever follow them.
On the other hand, someone who embodies leadership in every fiber of their being could be at the bottom of organizations who have no say or authority whatsoever. And yet, others around them would follow them to the ends of the earth.
This is one of the key things many leaders get wrong nowadays.
Instead of putting the people first, they only think of the numbers. Thus losing out on creating cooperation, instilling trust, and building up a feeling of rapport throughout their team.
A person cannot simply tell two people to get along with one another or tell someone to trust them. But a leader instinctively knows how to build it; how to create it into something where everyone feels as though they gain from it.
As you might expect (or have already experienced), no leader is perfect -- and no leader does everything right, 100% of the time. So… what do leaders typically get wrong?
Unexpected Things Almost Every Leader Gets Wrong
Thinking Big Risks Equals Even Bigger Rewards
The mentality that the bigger the better can be detrimental -- especially for leaders. This mentality usually sticks with who we mentioned earlier: the authoritative figures. Those who don’t really have people who would truly follow them; only those who follow their orders.
Leaders don’t just carelessly go through with the big risks; they go through with the smart risks.
Ones that benefit the team as a whole. Because to leaders, it isn’t about the numbers. It’s about the people.
Cultivating Competition Rather than Cooperation
A leader that fosters competition throughout his or her team, rather than cooperation and collaboration, is setting everyone up for failure. Imagine a team who only tries to undermine or weaken other members… doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, right?
While a little competition is a good thing, as it can help promote efficiency, successful leaders cultivate respect, communication, cooperation, and unbreakable trust.
Only Hiring People Beneath Them
Let me ask you something: do you believe Apple, Amazon, Walmart, or any other majorly successful brand would be where they are if their leaders only hired people they believed were beneath or not as smart as them?
As Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Getting Things Done by Micro-Managing
Wait, wait, wait… are we talking leadership or management? Because leaders most definitely do not micro-manage.
Leaders effectively get things done by leading the organization as a whole, not getting up into every single member’s business. If leaders are spending too much time keeping an eye on what each individual is doing, they’re wasting precious time that could be spent elsewhere.
They’re Too Task-Oriented
While focusing on a goal or task is great, many leaders also fail to focus on the team as a whole, as well as the individuals who make up that team.
Powerful leaders always keep every aspect of how to get things done in mind, which includes not just the steps in how to achieve a certain task, but how each team member is going to take part in those steps and how the steps are going to affect the team overall.
This plays into what we mentioned above: leaders who put the people first, rather than the numbers, are the most effective and successful leaders.
They consistently ask themselves three questions: Are we accomplishing the goal we set out for ourselves? Is the team working well together? And how is each individual doing in his/her path?
Always Taking, Never Giving
Leaders who only take and never give aren’t really leaders at all. This can take many different forms, such as always taking credit for everything, never praising team members, or never delegating tasks to build up individual team member’s strengths.
This “take, don’t give” mentality doesn’t just hurt the success of a team in the short-run, but can affect it as a whole in the long-run. Think about it… team members follow in the footsteps of their leaders. And if a leader is fostering a culture of only serving oneself, everyone will be trying to undermine everyone all the time.
Thinking Their Way is Best
The “My Way or the Highway” form of thinking will be the death of all innovation.
Only leaders who quickly recognize issues and adapt their methods to figure out the best way possible to overcome an obstacle will achieve success. Fluidity, flexibility, and collaboration are key.
Always Trying to Avoid Conflict
One of the top things many leaders get wrong is always trying to avoid conflict. While arguments between team members and leaders shouldn’t be happening left and right, a leader shouldn’t be afraid to talk about an issue.
Don’t be afraid to bring up the hard topics or take the difficult conversations head on. By doing so, you show others to do the same. Thus, a culture of open communication will ensue.
If you’re a leader, or considering becoming a leader, make sure to keep these things in mind so you can avoid them at all costs. The overall thing to remember is the most successful and effective leaders think of the people, not the results. While achieving optimal numbers that look stellar on paper is great, what good does it do if the hearts of the team behind it aren’t truly in it?
Above all, leaders understand and recognize that it’s the people who make up an organization, not the brand or business name itself.
Let me ask the tough question, do you make a good leader? Have you come in contact with good leaders? If so, comment below. I'm interested to hear more.