Whether you have a team of two or twenty, leadership is an invaluable quality that inspires the people pushing your business forward.
That being said, it doesn’t always come so easily for some.
There are people who are natural-born leaders but for most of us, the ability to lead is something we have to work to develop. Luckily, leadership isn’t some magical gift but a set of skills you can acquire and practice.
Today, I’ll give you three tips to help you on your way to becoming a better leader. You can check out my weekly INC column to find the full articles.
Stop Handing Out So Much Praise
Today’s modern workplace is quickly heading towards an epidemic of niceties. That’s right, constant praise and positive feedback for employees may be doing more harm than good. There’s a difference between offering your staff helpful positive feedback and rewarding them for every small task completed.
Leaders are constantly worried about culture. And they should be. Unfortunately, many tend to walk on eggshells out of fear that negative feedback will deter rather than drive their employees. Positive reinforcement isn’t always a motivator. In fact, it can be the exact opposite.
Your employees aren’t made of glass. Constructive criticism or stern words after a major screw-up will not break them into a million pieces. I’m a firm believer that the office isn’t a place for participation trophies. If an individual is not performing well, he or she better know about it. And they better do something about it.
While it’s always easier to focus on the positive rather than the negative, this might be giving your staff the wrong idea. If you start praising people for doing a sub-par job, you’re not pulling your weight as the boss. Think before you thank and save those gold stars for well-earned accomplishments.
How to Handle Average Performing Employees
There are a few telltale signs that an employee is lacking motivation or passion for their job. You may find they only ever do the bare minimum, regardless of deadlines looming. As a leader, sometimes you have to do the tough job of dealing with people that just aren’t meeting your expectations.
Sound familiar? Stop and think about how this is going to influence your business. Once you begin to accept this behaviour, it starts to become the norm. Before you know it you could have an entire company made up of average workers. Hiring mistakes can happen, but it’s important to be able to recognize them and correct them.
Sometimes being a leader means you have to make some difficult decisions, it comes with the territory. There are few people who don’t struggle with firing someone or giving critical feedback. Avoiding these things or being passive about them can be extremely detrimental to your business.
Delivering critical feedback isn’t the same as confrontation. For one, it’s a conversation, not an argument (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Difficult conversations are a learned skill. There are very few people in which is it comes naturally, so gut yourself some slack.
The first tip is to map things out before you sit down with someone, this way you can keep the conversation focused. Next, practice what you want to say a few times. This will help you feel more prepared. Finally, think of the fundamental reason for your job. You’re doing this because it’s what’s best for the company.
Grin and bear it and don’t let yourself be known as a push-over.