I conduct Effective Leadership programs around the country. I’ve had many discussions with people lately about what their leaders lack, and what they would like to work on themselves. Take a look at this list: be honest with yourself—what do you need to work on?
#1 — Lack of direction
Many leaders do not set clear expectations about what they expect, or the expectations continually change from week to week, which confuses the team. Motivating employees includes making sure you have clear expectations with each person, specifying what you expect them to do. They can’t hit a target if they don’t know where it is.
#2 — Lack of attention
Managers are multitasking and distracted. I believe this is a symptom of corporate America, where people are doing more with less. This leads to managers who are in a constant state of overwhelm, with too many people to manage and too many projects going at once. It’s the curse of the “working manager.”
#3 — Lack of empathy As a leader, you must carve out time to meet with team members on a consistent and regular basis. I often say in my programs that a great leader has to “prioritize and calendar-ize.”
One freezing winter’s morning, I called the office and explained that my roads were iced over and I would not be in that day, that I would be working from home. The next day, my manager told me rather testily that, “Every employee had come in except for you.” My response was that the other people who showed up for work did not live out in the country with roads coated with ice. He had no empathy for my situation and said, “Well, you should have been here.”
At one company I worked for, I called my boss one afternoon to let him know that my grandfather had passed away, and ask him what the company policy was for days off for bereavement because I needed to go to West Virginia to attend the funeral. He quietly stated he was sorry for my loss and said, “You work a lot of hours. Don’t worry about the policy. Just go do what you need to do and it will be here when you get back.” This was a great example of true empathy.
#4 — Lack of sensitivity to other people’s time
Every one of us in our career has worked with the boss who delivered some urgent last-minute project to our desk at 5:15 on the evening on the night of our sons piano recital and said: “ I need you to get this done before you leave.”
I am not saying that people should not be expected at times to work a little later in order to complete a project. But I do believe there are situations when a person’s personal life outside of work may take precedence over what is happening in the workplace. We often find leaders to be tone deaf when it comes to sensitivity about an employee’s personal time.
#5 — Lack of mission/vision
Many companies have mission and vision statements that are probably posted on the wall in the lobby of the building. What I find is that often there is no translation between the mission and vision and the actual work, making positive thinking difficult. People have a human need to know why they are doing what they’re doing. People have a need to know that there is some sort of mission behind the work. The big question is, why are people doing what they’re doing beyond just the paycheck?
Now take another look at yourself, and decide what you need work on in order to make yourself the kind of leader that other people will want to follow.
This originally appeared in B2B Magazine