12 Weak Habits Every Leader Must Break
Chances are, you're guilty of at least one of these bad habits. But as your organization grows, so must your competency as its leader. Here are observations from 12 young founders from YEC about what habits leaders should work on breaking now--before it's too late.
1. Always Giving the Answer
Many leaders walk into a room ready to dish out advice to the team, which sets the tone for a hierarchical relationship with little transparency and stunts the team's growth potential. The best leaders empower teams to uncover the answers on their own, coming alongside to support through questions and experience, but never just giving the answer.
--Emily Holdman, PeopleKit
2. Not Following Through
Leaders whose teams watch them continually drop the ball lose respect and credibility, especially when their teams are being "told" by the leader to do "so much work." When you promise your team you are going to have something done, have it done. The sense of urgency will suddenly go out the window for many other tasks if you lack execution on a regular basis. --Jon Cline, Rokit SEO
3. Lacking Accountability
It's important to hold yourself just as accountable as you hold your team. You will earn credibility with them by providing clear direction, checking in, and being their best cheerleader, no matter how small the task. Your team is motivated by your passion.
--Ashley Mady, Brandberry
I'm just as guilty as the next guy. I am slowly letting go, but for a while I needed to review every single piece of content, design, or even tweet that we sent out on behalf of my firm. No one can keep up with that, especially as a growing organization. I became a bottleneck at every turn, and eventually my workers stopped looping me in, cc'ing me, or updating me. Don't be a roadblock! --Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media
5. Managing by Butts in Seats
Just like trust, credibility is something that is earned, not given. Being consistent in your instructions, viewpoint, and vision helps others on your team trust you and earns you credibility in their eyes. Constantly changing direction and instructions make you seem scattered and causes others to lose confidence in your credibility over time.
--Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
It's hard to give up control as your organization grows. When you're a one-person startup, you have to have your hands in everything. When you're five people, you can get away with having your hands in everything. But once you start to have specialists, you have to trust others to do what you hired them to do. Employees will do better work if they feel empowered to use their best judgement.
--Jared Feldman, Mashwork
Some people are intimidated by those who yell, but smart people know that those who yell are often trying to cover up a lack of internal confidence or insecurity. Yelling shows that your method of control is through overpowering and not garnering respect. If you have to yell to make your employees listen or do what you want, you've already lost the battle.
--Michael Costigan, Youth Leadership Specialist
9. Not Listening
Your team is in the trenches and may have access to an important perspective that you might not have considered. Your job is to build a team that offers the combined power of 10 minds, not that of just one know-it-all. Listen to your team, and make them feel appreciated. Otherwise, they won't respect your leadership. When they respect you, they'll be more likely to feed you important opinions. --Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee
10. Overpromising and Under-Delivering
As the leader, you are held accountable for every word said to your team. For that reason, it is critical to always be mindful of promises made. When outlining plans/goals to your team, always set mini-goals that are easily achievable. Hitting these goals consistently is easier, and the success of accomplishing these tasks will help your credibility and raise team morale.
--Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
11. Not Doing What You Say You Will
Leading a startup or a new company is exciting, and there are a lot of different offers and opportunities that will come your way. But until you are sure of something, be cautious about announcing it to the company. It's understandable that with new companies things will change, but the more you can stay true to your word and properly set expectations, the more credibility you will have with your employees. Do what you say, and say what you mean. Having credibility with your employees not only boosts morale but will increase overall productivity and camaraderie. --Zachary Yungst, Cater2.me
12. Defaulting to Secrecy and Vagueness
When communicating with your team, be as specific, clear and honest as possible to build trust and credibility. This will also make your team more efficient by eliminating productivity killers like distraction, concern, uneasiness, and gossip. --John Berkowitz, Yodle