We have all been inundated with articles, books and blog-posts about ways in which we can improve our leadership style, wield our influence and build up our credibility. We have all been trained, or have read that it takes years to build a reputation and one simple, sometimes seemingly insignificant (at least to us) act to ruin it. We are all guilty of losing our focus occasionally and we may act insensitively now and then.
So, let’s talk about some ways that we trip ourselves up…
1. Disrespecting people’s time
There is an old adage, “time is money.” Time is also some of the necessary capital for building relationships, personal as well as business. In our fast-paced society, most people feel over-burdened by the things they feel they must get done and not having enough time.
Starting and ending meetings late, showing up late for appointments, lunches and dinners may be tolerated initially. But, eventually it leads people to question your sincerity, ability to organize (and lead), accomplish important tasks, manage your time, lead effectively, and eventually your integrity about all that you do. Abusing someone’s time says blatantly, “I don’t respect or value you.”
2. Inauthentic listening
A second clear signal that you do not value the people around you is not really paying attention when they are speaking to you. It is one thing to take notes about the discussion or topic, but a completely different issue when fiddling with your smart phone, failing to make eye-contact, and finally giving inappropriate answers to questions you have only half-heard. If you wish to add insult to injury, you can ask that they repeat everything they have just said, now that they have your attention.
Here are some posts that will help you communicate better:
3. Failing to act
When your teammates are putting together a project, wander off to do something more important and certainly less labor-intensive. It won’t be long before you are known as the guy (or girl) who “doesn’t do chairs.”
Only good leaders spend time in the trenches, helping with the less-glamorous jobs alongside the people they hope to lead.
4. Micromanaging everyone except yourself
Be sure to tell others exactly how to do the jobs you’ve assigned them, nit-pick their mistakes and check on them frequently to keep them accountable. However, when your work is being evaluated, and found to be less than the best you are capable of producing, blow it off as nit-picking, and assure your critics that is “good enough for government work.”
5. Ignoring promises and agreements
If you must make a promise or a commitment to the people around you, don’t make plans to follow through on them. People will shortly figure out that you are unreliable and will begin to treat you accordingly. How do you do this? See #6.
6. Making excuses
Always have your favorite excuses at the ready. Need a few to add to your arsenal?
- I forgot
- I thought it was another time, place, _____________.
- I didn’t know you wanted it done by today.
- It’s almost finished, but I didn’t bring it with me
- Old-school classic: The dog ate it.
- I have it all in my head and I can just scribble it down for you if you really need it now.
7. Failing to support people
When your colleagues are trying to explain or present a program or idea that you have championed privately together, and it appears that things are not going well, distance yourself. Let them sweat and hang all alone. You are okay with this because you followed step # 5.
Don’t step up to defend the “good” idea. Act as though you have no idea why they are wandering down that particular rabbit trail. It will only take doing this 1 or 2 times before your colleagues see you for what you are… a fraud.
8. Making sure the spotlight, focus and high-beams are always on you
Turn any conversation into a discussion about your personal achievement and your “awesomeness.” Be sure to explain what you have done is so much more important, and why everyone should care. For the most mileage, be sure you start with a humble beginning to your story.
9. Casting blame
When a project that you care about doesn’t fly, be certain to explain to everyone and anyone who will listen why it isn’t really your fault. If you are speaking to higher-ups, blame your “subordinates” for not pulling their weight. If you are speaking with team members or subordinates, explain why the organization, “the system”, “the man” is holding you back and keeping good ideas out of the pipeline. Above all else, be sure to raise yourself and your involvement to the highest level and standards in your explanation (#8).
10. Overplaying your relationship card
Only contact your friends when you need something — a favor, money, a recommendation, etc. Here’s how:
- Start with your inauthentic listening skills (#2), asking about people in their lives that you can scarcely remember and projects they have been working on, in which you have no interest
- Move on to something about getting together more often; it’s been too long, yada, yada, yada…
- Then, Bang! Ask for what you came for. Present the real goal of the contact and conversation.
- But I should caution you that this will probably only work once or twice.
11. Abandoning projects
First of all, only champion projects that involve the labor and talents of other people. If somehow things get shifted around, and you find yourself having to do most of the heavy lifting yourself, let go. Explain why it’s all falling apart (#9), that you have given it a lot of thought (perhaps throw in sleepless nights), and have decided not to pursue this anymore. Don’t get hung up on the fact that other people have already put in hard work.
12. Not accepting criticism
Never allow other people to criticize or correct you. If you must listen, use your inauthentic listening skills (#2) and simply ignore what they say. If you must speak, see #6, #9 and #11.
Failing any of those techniques, make a joke of it, which would actually be #13, but we only get 12. Don’t let what anybody thinks about you, your work or your work ethic change how you work or how you feel about yourself.
I could use the old adage here, “never let them see you sweat,” but you don’t sweat, because you don’t care.
We have discussed some of the most selfish and self-centered ways to crush your credibility with other people. These are all habits which we can easily fall into. If you want to be respected, remain credible and valued, you should avoid them at all costs. If don’t avoid them, clean up the mess and do damage control as soon as possible.
We all know people who do these things all the time. What methods do you use to keep your ego in check?
cross posted form 12most.com