Another year is almost in the books! Hopefully, this week has been one where you’ve been able to take a little time for yourself as you gear up for a new year of both personal and professional growth.
I always find the new year to be a great marker in which to set some of my own goals and evaluate how I did the past year. It keeps me on track to never waste a moment even during pandemic times. Maybe you do the same (or should start setting some goals). Here are some common mistakes that leaders make that may help you form some ideas for goals for yourself and your team.
Underestimating (or forgetting) the power of culture
Culture is everything. It dictates who you are, who you do the work that you do and it’s what makes you unique compared to your competitors. As obvious as that is, many leaders fail to link culture to strategy as they communicate to their team. Putting your culture and value top of mind certainly helps to keep it connected in communication. When I was a multi-state operations leader, I had all of my locations say the mission statement together before each shift. It felt odd at first, but it quickly got to the point where it felt weird not saying it at gatherings.
Today in the healthcare field, I’m always looking for ways to naturally input our values into the conversation to draw in focus and alignment in what we do and how we accomplish our goals.
Take the approach that works best for your team, just be sure to link your strategy back to your guiding principles so that your team understands why they are doing it and how they so go about accomplishing the goal. Drawing culture and strategy together makes it easier for your team to be successful and do their job well.
Talking about an individual instead of talking to them
One of the common themes that I discuss with leaders, no matter their leadership level, is coaching. Leaders typically have no problem at all talking about their employees. Whether it’s by gossip or just trying to get something off their chest, they’ll openly share their frustrations and ideas on improvements with others.
Good leaders muster up the managerial courage to have difficult conversations with others because, at the end of the day, that person needs the feedback that you have otherwise they will never improve. (Ep 322)
It’s also important to instill that direct approach in your team as well in order to strengthen your culture and team dynamic. Just as you may want to go to others with your grievances, your people will want to come to you with theirs. Instead of acting as a constant intermediary, encourage your people to connect with each other directly with their concerns and feedback. Doing so builds up trust within your team and frees your time up for other productive things.
Overly depend on the physical
Culture (and leadership) can be misunderstood. When learning about a leader’s disposition towards servant leadership or the culture of their team, the person will often share about physical items. They are sharing about the What instead of the How.
What examples: Bringing in a food truck for lunch, creating a game room or ping pong table space, or hosting a potluck during the holidays.
How examples: How you prioritize your time and people, stories of helping one another, going above and beyond for your customer, and how you show care while holding others accountable.
You may look at that list and say, “Wait a minute. I’m a good leader and I do things like the What examples all the time for my people.” That’s great, but culture should hang on the what alone. Even a terrible boss can order in donuts every now and then.
Having an authentic culture has everything to do with your interactions with others as you all do your daily work. Sometimes leaders lean in too hard on the rewards without investing in How people lead themselves and work with others.
Failing to invest (bonus tip!)
We’ve closed out every podcast for over seven years with the same catchphrase, “Invest in yourself to develop others”. It’s important to continue to invest in both yourself and your team and your business to ensure culture and priorities stick. Often times leaders will throw a little bit of money at an idea, concept, or strategy and then call it good. Think of a diversity and inclusion strategy. A leader may see that it is important and then see some people to course and move on. That strategy is not likely to have a long-lasting impact on just one event.
Think of how you invest in others and yourself as just that…..an investment. You’ve wouldn’t expect to retire from a one-time investment of $100. You add in a little bit each check through your career and then by the time you retire you have a nice little cushion on money waiting for you. You’ve got to keep that same intentionally as your push out new initiatives and priorities. Keep investing in communication, education, and connection for yourself and those you serve.
All of our mistakes today hold a common theme of culture. Overcome these common mistakes that leaders make that impact their teams in ways that they may never truly fully realize. Lock into and invest a strong culture to see your people thrive and your business goals increase.
Make a better tomorrow.