Two in five CEOs fail within their first 18 months of leading an organization, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review. One-third of chief executives from Fortune 500 companies don’t make it past three years.
Achieving goals requires your teams’ support and commitment. If your team is not on board, this could lead to you being unsuccessful in your leadership role. Here are four of the most common pitfalls that can cast you in a negative light and “turn off” your employees thereby rendering your leadership ineffective.
1) The “Marionette” Trap – The challenge for any leader is working within pre-defined parameters, yet being able to apply your own talents to achieve results. In an age of uncertainty, many leaders are yielding to this trap of just playing it safe to preserve their position and privileges. The sad part is your employees are listening and seeing everything and are murmuring behind your back. If you have to be continuously directed, you are in fact a puppet.
I know of some boards who only hire managers that they can control. If your only concern is to impress top management you will be surely losing points with your employees. There must be a balance, yes, you want to impress those at the top, but what about your employees? In the end no one takes you seriously, neither the board you are trying to impress nor the employees you have ignored.
2) The “King Kong” Trap – Some leaders when they reach to the top immediately forget where they came from. Great leaders don’t talk down to staff or make them feel inferior.Respect is a must. Show respect, not just for your employees, but all those you come in contact with, inclusive of the kitchen attendant, janitor, security guard…etc. Your in-house reputation will quickly spread.
Bill Nuti former CEO at NCR Corp- While the company’s revenues grew to $6.2 billion in 2013 from $6.0 billion in 2012, employees showed a strong dislike of their CEO, Bill Nuti. One employee wrote to upper management, “We carry your water every day, and you disrespect us every day, we’re just your minions. You put out surveys, obviously you pay no attention to them or things would begin changing.
3) The “Superman” Trap includes making all of the decisions solo, ignoring feedback you don’t like and becoming isolated.
Letting your ego get ahead of you and thinking you know it all is a sure path to failure. Use collaborative skills to arrive at solutions. Admit when you don’t know.Showing some vulnerability allows you to strengthen relations with your team. You’ll build trust more easily.
George Shaheen former CEO at Webvan.com joined Webvan in September 1999. He fancied himself as one of the greatest business consultants in the world when he ran Andersen. Yet, it seems he did nothing to effectively review Webvan’s business model. It appears that he made no attempt to work with his board of directors or management to alter the company’s operations. He made a series of bad decisionsleading to Webvan having to declare bankruptcy in 2001.
4) The “Taskmaster” Trap – Do you brush over your teams’ successes, automatically working towards the next goal with a bland acknowledgement? Is results your only motivator? Continuously drilling employees is a sure way to lose points. If you ignore the wins of your team, you miss a vital opportunity, to not only inspire, but build a more personal connection with your team which can give your leadership personal brand a boost.
Many leaders don’t stop to celebrate their small successes. One notable exception is Richard Branson who, at the Virgin group, integrates work and play. Richard Branson on How to Make Employees Happy – “Don’t forget to celebrate achievements and have some fun while doing so.”
Falling into any one of these traps can result in disastrous consequences. It’s difficult to see yourself as others see you. The challenge is to recognize them as they definitely can hurt your personal leadership brand. However, with the New Year just around the corner. It’s important to do some introspection and if you find yourself guilty, just adjust the sails accordingly.