In an Innovative Management Consulting blog, leadership coach Tamara Raymond cautioned workplace leaders to avoid playing favorites among employees and explained why the practice can set leaders and their work teams up for failure.
In a recent interview, Raymond, author of Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career, expanded on that idea, saying, “There are many other leadership traps you should avoid if you want to keep your job, keep your sanity, and keep your workplace humming along smoothly.”
She shed light on some of them and provided solutions for not falling prey to the traps.
Raymond mentioned the following leadership pitfalls to avoid:
- You Think Everything You Say Is Right—Some leaders think their job title automatically means they are right about everything. This is not far different from the Mom or Dad who tells their child, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But being a workplace leader does not make you infallible. It does not mean that everyone should fall in lockstep behind everything you say because you are in charge. Recognize this and make sure the things you tell employees are actually right before you insist that they act upon them, says Raymond.
- You Don’t Think You Can Learn from Others—Being a workplace leader does not mean you have nothing else to learn, and it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from those who work for you. Stay open-minded. Being open to learning from your employees not only benefits you and the workplace, it can also raise the respect your employees have for you, Raymond says. This can lead to a more productive workplace all around.
- You Abuse Your Power by Demeaning Employees—Being a leader does not give you a license to belittle workers, even those who are not performing well and those you do not like. In other words, it does not give you a license to bully employees, says Raymond. Demeaning employees can take the form of verbally insulting them, refusing to give them credit for a job well done, and speaking poorly about them behind their back. Don’t engage in this behavior.
- You Make Employees Work Unnecessarily Long Hours—There is something to be said for a workplace that respects a healthy work/life balance, and if you’re a leader who doesn’t, you’re not leading well. Sometimes overtime is unavoidable, but when you make employees work crazy hours just because you’re a perfectionist—and find ways to avoid paying them overtime to boot—you’re abusing your leadership. You’re also creating a tense workplace and stressed employees. Additionally, some employees may stay longer at work simply because they think that’s what you want, not because it takes extra time to get the job done, Raymond says. Again, this signals that you’ve created a stressful working environment.
- You’re Not Open to Constructive Criticism—Being a leader does not make you immune to constructive criticism. When your higher-ups and leadership peers offer it, be all ears and ready to pick up tips that can help you improve in your role, Raymond says. The leader who gets defensive and feels they have nothing to learn is not doing their job well and won’t be in it for long.
- You’re Not Open to Doing Things Differently—Not all problems require the same solution, and a good leader knows and acts upon that. Just because a solution to a problem worked in the past does not mean it will always work. Times and business demands change, which means that businesses must sometimes change their game plans to keep up productivity. A good leader will adapt and come up with new solutions to ever-changing problems, Raymond says.
As you can see, the “life of a leader can be littered with traps,” says Raymond, who adds, “But if you know what pitfalls to avoid and are open to feedback, you’re in a better position to be the best workplace leader you can be.”
Tamara S. Raymond is a certified executive leadership coach, career strategist, and president of Innovative Management Consulting, an executive and leadership consulting firm that offers its signature coaching program, Thriving Leaders for Optimal Impact, for management to C-Suite professionals. She is also the award-winning author of Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career and the creator of the soon-to-be released online course Careering for Youth: The Online Coaching Edition.