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Leadership Advice: Five Practices To Avoid

Even the most successful and highly qualified leaders in business know that attaining ultimate perfection within your role is highly difficult, simply due the pure unpredictability of the position. Though most still strive – as they should — there are still certain reminders that would benefit corporate leaders of all levels and industries.

Executive coach, columnist, and founder/ principal of Leadership From the Core, Marcel Schwantes, provided some valuable advice via Inc.com which we would like to share with our readers. The following may even serve as a proverbial “litmus test” as to whether an individual is properly suited toward a leadership role.

senior businessman with his team at office. business people group

1.  Not being completely tuned into the conversation

With communications skills being among the top requirements in the ability to lead others, showing you are able to properly engage in conversation is nonnegotiable. Schwantes reminds readers that the ability to allow someone to complete their entire thought without over-anticipating your chance to interject is a major component to developing professional listening habits. He reiterates that “[this] is being totally present in conversation. It shows that you’re both interested and curious about the other person’s story”.

2.  Negative body language

Yes, in-person communication involves much more than simply eye contact coupled with the words we speak. Schwantes interviewed psychologist and author of “Image Scrimmage”, Donna Van Natten, on the subject who agrees that as human beings, we are wired to obtain a significant portion of our social cues from the physical stance of an individual. She states, “We know that the feet tell us where the mind wants to go. Someone who is authentically engaged and present in the situation involves their whole body in the conversation”.

3.  Unprepared for challenging conversations

Few leaders would actually look forward to having a disciplinary talk with an employee. However, for the times when it must occur, the ability to recognize the situation from all angles is crucial. According to Schwantes, “The most professional bosses employ a face-to-face discussion to deal with low performers, [and] they have a game-plan that’s well-thought out in advance”. Before confronting any employee, Schwantes recommends that leaders ask themselves key questions, such as: 1) Is the employee fully aware of the problem?  2) Has the required level of performance been fully disclosed to the employee?  3)  Are the consequences for not meeting required work standards clear to the employee?  4) As a leader, am I in possession of all necessary facts, including “who, what, when, where, why, and how”?

4.  Not being accountable for their actions

It’s quite common for unprofessional bosses to blame subordinates or other outside circumstances for mistakes that were likely their own. Schwantes asserts that “[ill-equipped business leaders] are more concerned with preserving their reputation and saving face”. The ability to take responsibility for a situation that did not go as planned, over which you had authority, shows maturity and integrity.

5.  Hiding behind office door

The practice of remaining “invisible” to your subordinates has never been looked upon fondly, however in this age where transparency is the preferred corporate culture, consistently taking cover behind closed doors simply unacceptable. When leading a successful organization, it’s crucial that leaders remain visible to maintain a sense of professionalism and authenticity among their employees. Schwantes recaps, “Authenticity is a leadership strength that will win over your followers”.

Related: The Relevance of Transparency in Business

senior businessman with his team at office. business people group

Keeping these key points in mind will help those in management roles maintain paramount leadership skills under varying circumstances.

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200



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