As a leader, you’re confident in your ability to direct a group of people to accomplish your company’s goals. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be a leader. You believe in your business skills, think your employees respect you, and excel in communication. Or not.
While you may think you’ve got what it takes to succeed, those working with you and for you might disagree. That’s because leaders lie to themselves about their abilities and relationships. And if you believe a lie long enough, you’ll begin to accept it as true. Are any of the following lies derailing you?
1. I’m Not Arrogant.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and leaders often cross that line. In his book Managing, Harold Geneen says, “The worst disease which can afflict business executives in their work is not, as popularly supposed, alcoholism; it’s egotism.” Being arrogant can derail your leadership quicker than your team can say “big ego,” so guard against this lie! Successful leaders admit they are human and make mistakes.
2. I’m a Great Listener.
Before you say that, ask yourself: Am I actively listening, or am I just waiting for my turn to talk? It’s easy to go into problem-solving mode and assume you know the solution before the person finishes explaining the problem! Hearing is not the same as listening. Put your phone down, look the person in the eyes, and pay attention. You could learn a lot, and you may even earn the trust of a team member.
3. My Way is the Right Way.
You’re the leader, so it’s logical to assume that your way is best. Except that it’s not. Not always. If you want to be successful in today’s ever-changing business world, you must admit that others might have a better solution. Embrace innovation, or you’ll die out with the rotary phone.
4. I Communicate Well.
You may think, “I’ve already covered this in staff meeting. My team knows this.” Um, no they don’t. A recent article in Time magazine reported that the average attention span for adults is now just eight seconds. By the time you’ve clicked to the second slide, you’ve already lost your audience. The good news is they’re likely to tune back in—if you tell a compelling story. You need to keep telling that story until your team can tell it back to you.
5. I Can (and Should) Hide My Weaknesses.
Wrong again. Keep in mind, you spend more time with your team than anyone else in your life, so they know you—your favorite food, your pet peeves, and your annoying habits (yes, you have them!). They see your strengths—and your weaknesses. Ignoring weaknesses or hiding flaws doesn’t make you a better leader. It just fuels distrust, especially as younger adults join your team. They prize authenticity and hate the fake. So don’t even try. Just be honest. It takes a lot less energy.
Your leadership skills need to constantly evolve or you’ll become ineffective and irrelevant over time. You’ll never be the perfect leader, and that’s okay. Admit that you don’t know everything, because you don’t. Welcome the input of others. Listen to them. Accept your limitations and ask for help. Your success as a leader depends on it.