Which default behaviours hold you back from authentic leadership?

BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT   |   2 minutes  |   April 28, 2017

With studies revealing that more than 30% of employees say poor leadership at work is the most stressful part of the job and that their boss makes them feel controlled, manipulative or defensive 1, it’s no surprise one of the most powerful factors of being a successful leader is how you act.

default behaviours 1

Your default behaviours and habits could be having a massive impact on your opportunity to step into that position of leadership you’re aiming for.

How are you ensuring the way you delegate, communicate and interact with your co-workers is:

  1. In line with your organisation’s values?
  2. Creating a positive effect?
  3. Demonstrating good leadership?
Seven steps to breaking bad behaviours in the workplace

Bad habits such as: being constantly distracted by emails; having a negative attitude; delaying tough tasks; having undefined goals and not communicating well with your co-workers will all have an impact on how others perceive you as a leader. According to bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, there are seven steps to break bad workplace behaviours and habits2:

Step 1: Become aware of the bad habit or habits and admit to yourself they are hindering your progress. If you’re unsure which habits could be bad, don’t be afraid to ask those close to you to help identify them.

Step 2: Understand how the habit is stopping you from being your best self. What is the trigger for that habit? How does it make you behave? What reward do you get out of that behaviour?

Step 3: State what you want (or how you’d want to behave) instead.

Step 4: Find something you can do that still maintains the trigger and the reward but changes the behaviour into something positive.

Step 5: Track your progress in order to maintain your momentum and hold yourself accountable for your actions.

Step 6: Ask someone to be your mentor or coach – or seek the help of a workplace psychologist to help you work through the reasons behind your unhealthy behaviours and habits.

Step 7: Keep at it until you see the positive impact your new behaviours are having on the people around you. And be patient – it can take close to seventy days of hard work to replace an old habit with a new one.

A great leader empowers their employees through their default behaviours

Powerful leadership is not about walking ahead of the pack, calling them to follow; it’s about cheering them on from the sidelines, allowing them to walk independently whilst providing them with guidance and support.

By uncovering and breaking unhealthy default behaviours, you are one step closer to being this kind of leader. The next question to ask yourself is: what behaviours should you be aiming to exude? Deirdre Cerminaro, a Systems Designer at IDEO, found that it comes down to 5 behaviours: humility, trust, encouragement, inspiration and modelling the right behaviours.3

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1. Humble yourself before your team

Be a leader who:

  • Is open to feedback
  • Admits their weaknesses or failures
  • Treats their co-workers as equals rather than subordinates

2. Trust your employees

Make your employees feel like they are working with you, not for you. By trusting in their skill sets and the fact they may have more intuition than you do when it comes to certain business decisions, you’ll boost their self-esteem.

Anne Ward, a doctoral candidate in NCU’s PhD in Business Administration with a specialisation in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, asserts that4:

“Employee performance is important to improving bottom line revenue. Someone with high self-esteem will be satisfied with work performance and be more productive.”

3. Encourage all ideas to be shared

Sometimes your employees may have half-baked ideas they’re too afraid to share. Why? Because many leaders want a full strategy and plan before they’ll even listen to a hint of creativity. Create an environment where your team feels they can share even the smallest glimmer of a good idea.

Tip: Give each employee post-it notes and encourage them to write down new ideas every day, and to bring the best ones to the next brainstorm meeting.

4. Inspire instead of spoonfeeding

Most leaders are strategic and able to clearly see the detailed plan for reaching a goal. This can cause them to become controlling and instructive towards their team, resulting in employees who are unable to think for themselves and who are too afraid to make decisions.

Rather than giving your team a map to follow, give them ownership of drawing up the map for themselves. Not only will they value you more as a leader, but it will allow you to pick up on their individual strengths.

5. Set the example

According to Natalie Maroun, Managing Director for LRMG, a leading Performance Agency:

“People don’t stay with companies – they stay with leaders. And when people stay with leaders who they’re inspired by, who make sense to them and who are true to the values that the organisation has articulated, the workforce will give what’s called ‘discretionary or extra effort.”5

What behaviours do you want to see your employees emanate? Whatever they are, you need to model those behaviours first. And remember, it’s not about being perceived as the “cool” or “trendy” leader, but rather the authentic, approachable and transparent leader.

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1 Huffington Post
Michael Hyatt