“Suck Less For Success” – 7 Tips for Leaders

“Seven Bad Habits of Ridiculously Ineffective Leaders, That Suck.”

After training thousands of managers and executives on how to coach and communicate more effectively, one theme persists – frustration. There are a lot of managers who believe their lives would be much easier if their people “sucked less.” My job is to challenge the leader to see how their own performance impacts that of their employees.

Performance problems require leadership solutions

Chances are that your employees do not lack the knowledge, skills or ability to be successful performers; they lack a little TLC: Training, Leading and Coaching.

Of the many lessons on effective leadership that I learned in my life, like most people, I associated “lessons” with the difficult task of learning something new.  You know how hard it is to learn something new. You start our Horrible, work your way to Bad and then it starts to look darker and darker with no dawn in sight.

“It’s just plain hard to learn new things; And just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.”

But, it’s still hard to START doing new behaviors.

What I learned after many “dawns” is that the fastest path to developing habits that create productivity on teams is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create a positive and powerful impact on those I lead and that lesson was to “Just Stop It.

Even if you don’t exhibit all of these behaviors, it may be useful to see if they exist even in the smallest way.  So, here are seven things to stop doing.  I call them the “Seven Bad Habits of Ridiculously Ineffective Leaders.”

The 7 Behaviors to STOP for any Manager or Leader

1.       Stop Complaining.  It’s easy to complain, especially if it takes attention away from your own performance. Never forget that you are part of the team – when you disparage any of your people you are also commenting on your inability to manage them well. “Just Stop It.

2.       Stop Giving Your Opinion. When someone brings an idea to you, don’t judge it immediately and throw out your precious opinion or better idea or improvement. “Just Stop It.

Get in the habit of saying “Great job, I’ll spend some time on this and get back to you in a day or two.”  Think about it, you give your people the gift of enjoying the compliment. They get to use that pat on the back to boost them up a bit and deal with the rest of their day.

Let them enjoy being proud to bring you that gift of their great idea; it creates a more productive association with you and their ideas that they will enjoy and more likely repeat.

At least if you have some criticism of their work, you can take some time to focus on what was good about their idea and to talk about what could be improved at a later time.

3.       Stop Exaggerating.  I know this one may be tough, because you don’t think that you do it at all. Consider that when you really take a look at all those problems you are having with your people that you might be making mountains out of mole hills.   “Just Stop It.

Make a list of all the activities that you expect your people to do on a daily or weekly basis.  Put a check mark by all the ones that are not getting done to your satisfaction.  Evaluate the reality of the situation in the context of their entire job.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • How bad is their output compared to the overall goals of your team?
  • Do those activities control a significant portion of your team’s output?  If not, stop putting so much importance on things that don’t really matter.

4.       Stop Jumping to Conclusions.  Especially when it comes to assessing what your people are and are not able to accomplish. If you judge their overall capabilities on the output of a single task, you may be missing out on their best work and hurting the team overall. “Just Stop It.

When you know the strengths and weaknesses of each individual on your team, you can “manage” the assignments with better accuracy and get a higher output. As the leader it is your job to get the whole job done with your whole team; Are you trying to get everyone on the team to do every job that needs to be done.

Think about that for a second: Do you think a football team would be a winning team if all you had were great quarterbacks? or Lineman? or Kickers?  Of course not; You need people to do their specific jobs and to do them well.

It’s up to you the leader to give up your “conclusions” about what a person can and can’t do and to find the right spot on the team for them.

Do you understand what motivates each individual and how they define success?

It sucks when your boss doesn’t know how to help you meet your goals; especially if the boss doesn’t even know your goals.  So suck less by seeking first to understand where your people will excel naturally and where they need your help to improve their performance.

5.       Stop resisting feedback.  (And it’s ALL Feedback) Did you know that you are getting feedback all the time and you probably aren’t even aware. Every task, project or activity that your team produces is feedback. If you think that the words they give you are feedback, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of the truth.

I have a group of friends that cling to one great statement.  They say “if three of us tell you that you are dead, lay down.” Stop ignoring all the great feedback that you are getting from your direct reports. They are giving it without saying a word, but you have to pay attention.  Watch how they react when you speak.  Notice what happens when you walk into a room.  Wake up and stop ignoring all the signs your team is giving you.

6.       Stop pretending you know everything. It turns out that your “brilliance” isn’t that bright. Telling your people all that you know might only serve to impress you, not them. If the people around you want your input, I promise you, they will ask.

Your team solves problems and takes care of customers all day long – they’re not there to take dictation when you drop your brilliance on them. They need you to acknowledge and appreciate their contribution, not learn that they aren’t as smart as you.

Be the one that asks questions and discovers the specialized knowledge among your employees. Acknowledge them for what they know and they will know how much you care.

7.       Stop doing it alone. Donald Keough, former CEO of the Coca-Cola Company once said, “what separates those who achieve from those that do not is in direct proportion to their ability to ask for help.”  If you can identify with any of the above behaviors that you could STOP doing to suck less, this bad behavior of “doing it alone” will cause you to suck the most – in many areas of your work and personal life. “Just Stop It.

The ONE SIMPLE FIX: “Ask for Help.”

The simple fix is the secret to overcoming these bad behaviors. One simple shift has the power to transform all your transgressions that damage your relationships into a powerful and productive tool to build your relationships.

When you ask for help, you transform seven bad behaviors into team, people and results building behaviors.

When you ask for help, you transform all the stress between you and your team into the power to achieve.

When you ask for help, you transform the quality of your life and the quality of the lives of your team.

Plus you get all these great benefits when you use this :

  1. you stop complaining and start taking meaningful action;
  2. you encourage collaboration and develop your people to bring better solutions; solicit the opinion of others;
  3. you get immediate feedback on the real “size” of the problem;
  4. you develop new “productive”conclusions about others and bring forth the strengths of each team member;
  5. you use all the feedback to seek opportunities to grow as a person, as a leader, and in relationship;
  6. you get to let your people shine and you give up pretending you know everything;
  7. And best of all, you give up the stress of “doing it alone” and you already know how much that sucks.

Take on one habit that doesn’t suck and you remove seven bad habits that do. “Just Stop It.

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