Since 2000, according to numerous national surveys, less than one-third of workers in the United States are engaged in their jobs as measured by their involvement, enthusiasm and commitment. If you reflect on your most recent encounter as a consumer at your local retail store, restaurant or government agency, your own experience will more than likely validate the reality of these statistics.
Leaders account for as much as 70 percent of the variance of employee engagement. A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left his or her job at some point in his/her career to get away from a manager and improve his/her overall quality of life.
People don't leave jobs, people leave people. Effective leadership requires not only doing the right things, but also understanding what not to do. The following are five critical mistakes to aggressively avoid.
1. Failing to schedule time for learning conversations
You do what you schedule. When you listen, you learn. Leaders should be doing what no one else can do, and no one can listen to your team members like you.
Schedule regular opportunities to ask clear, concise and clarifying questions to your team members, and then discipline yourself to actively listen. This will provide you with vital intelligence to implement two of the main functions of a leader in an organization:
- Remove obstacles.
- Provide resources.
How can you know the true obstacles that are impeding the potential success of the company and the actual resources needed by your team if you aren't consistently scheduling highly interactive learning conversations?
2. Failing to consistently affirm
As a leader, are you encouraging your team on a regular basis? One of the most powerful tools to embolden, motivate and energize your team is the incredible strength of affirmation. Affirming is simply catching people doing things right and telling them about it. Don't just think it; express it.
An effective leader is always on the lookout for opportunities to answer the soul-felt questions in the minds of their team members, such as "Do I matter?" and "Does what I do around here matter?"
Answer those questions by being specific about your team member's positive actions. Always tie the positive action you observed to the beneficial business outcome. If you are an encourager, then affirmations will emanate from your lips regularly and naturally. Being an encourager is a habit, and it's something that you need to be whenever possible.
When you visit the doctor, the doctor always asks a succession of questions, and often follows up with a battery of tests before ever prescribing any action to remedy an illness. The doctor does this for the safety of the patient and for the critical benefit of avoiding a malpractice lawsuit. The exception to this would be in an emergency situation, where time is of the essence.
If you are always making decisions in your construction business as if you live in the emergency room, then the health of your business is going to be in a constant state of trauma.
A proper diagnosis of the ailments of your business is required to make the decisions necessary to have a healthy and prosperous business.
This necessitates gathering appropriate and accurate information, much of which can be ascertained by avoiding mistake No. 1, before moving ahead with activity, which might or might not produce the desired results.
Many business owners or executives seek to bring in outside help to treat a problem that has been improperly, inadequately or incorrectly diagnosed.
Before assistance is formally acquired, they should answer the question, 'What do you want to accomplish?" With this simple question clarified, a decision can be made on what is the fastest and the most effective way to achieve the desired outcome.
4. Wearing the wrong hat
Vision caster. Trainer. Monitor. Cheerleader. Fixer. Disciplinarian. Which hat do you wear? It's important that you wear all of them and more. This dilemma is further augmented by the maturity, or immaturity, as the case may be, of your construction team. The biggest challenge is not only in knowing what hat to wear, but in wearing the right hat at the right time.
If your team is newly formed, it's important to be participatory in your leadership style, regardless of the hat you are wearing. As your team further develops and establishes appropriate parameters, your style moves to being more of a hands-on leader.
You can then transition to a benevolent dictator as you ensure the appropriate, focused action of your team. When your team matures and is highly functioning, your style shifts to free-rein leadership as you equip the team to be self-sustaining.
Your style shifts. Your hats change. Your leadership flexibility is regularly challenged.
Change hats as often as the fluidity of circumstances dictates, and be cognizant of the leadership style required based upon the developmental maturity of your team.
5. Not taking responsibility
Making excuses cannot be a part of your routine. Ultimately, you are in direct control of decisions and the success of your organization. Take responsibility for your actions and work toward solutions, rather than explaining away unmet goals. Consider these excuse resolutions:
- There are things you cannot control. Stop wasting time and precious emotional energy on these things.
- There are things you can influence. Stop being passive about the things you can influence.
- There are things you can control. Stop making excuses for the things you can control. Get busy and act.
- Take responsibility for your own actions, attitudes and words. Lead your workforce by example.
Avoid these five common critical mistakes and leverage your powerful positive influence as a leader. As you do, instead of people withdrawing, disengaging or leaving, they will passionately follow you.
You are the most important element of the success of your team. Remember: your people want you to lead, whether you are on the jobsite or in the office.
Did You Know?
1 in 2 adults has left his or her job at some point in his or her career to get away from a manager and improve his/her overall quality of life.