Last month, we focused on four leadership behaviors that can kill initiative in the workplace. Those behaviors are micro-management, a short-term focus, excessive bureaucracy, and a dictatorial style. These four problems are prevalent in a number of workplaces, but leaders often seem unaware of or unable to change their behavior.
This month, we’d like to focus in on the three step process for changing workplace culture so that initiative killers are eliminated and teams are empowered to thrive. Eliminating initiative killers takes awareness, understanding, and action. Let’s focus in on the first step: awareness.
Acknowledging the Problem
Perhaps your employees aren’t performing at the level you think they should. Perhaps you started to notice that team members are quiet in meetings, or that they seem overly stressed and dissatisfied with their work. Awareness usually begins as a vague feeling that something isn’t quite working amongst your team members, and it’s often hard to put your finger on exactly what that problem might be.
If you become aware that there are issues holding your team back, leadership assessments can help you get to the root of the problem. While it may be that the issue your team is facing has nothing to do with your leadership style, strong leaders need to be open to the possibility that their behavior might be part of the problem.
People who are micro-managers or who have a dictatorial leadership style frequently have no idea that this is the case. Imagine, for example, a person who is amazing at detail work. They’ve helped their company identify inefficiencies and been rewarded with a management position. Now that they are a manager, however, they have continued to focus on details more than anything else. As a result, the people who report to them feel like their work isn’t trusted.
In their previous position, high attention to detail was a strength. But now that this person is in management, that strength has been overextended, turning this person into a micro-manager.
Realizing that your behavior could be part of the problem is incredibly difficult. That’s why leadership assessments can be a helpful tool. They help leaders recognize their strengths as well as their vulnerabilities, giving them an outside perspective on how their management style might be adversely affecting their team.
Learning to Lead is a Lifelong Process
Leadership is often talked about as a trait that people are born with, but we don’t believe that’s the case. Some people are more charismatic and energetic than others, but everyone needs to learn how to be the best leader for their business environment. As Chris Musselwhite so accurately put it, “Self-awareness is being conscious of what you’re good at while acknowledging what you still have yet to learn.”
Of course, awareness is just the first step. In our next blog, we’ll discuss how leaders can gain understanding as to why initiative killers exist in their workplace.