The one thing that ruins successful teams
MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is the biggest leadership lesson you’ve learned in the past year? is written by Joni Klippert, vice president of products at VictorOps.
Leadership lessons from business women usually include having reckless abandon, not asking for permission, being unapologetic, and recognizing what you want and what you’re worth.
Yes, do all of that, but at times you have to dial it back.
Being a good leader can give you a lot of power. Businesses move faster and thrive with decisive, action-oriented team members, and people rally around progress. But you have to have the self-awareness to know when your commanding personality and fervent drive to succeed might be drowning out valuable contributions.
It’s safe to assume your company is comprised of many intelligent individuals with a variety of personality types. In order to be a good leader, you need to know how to set your preferred method of work aside and create space for different types of employees to flourish.
Being a decisive, Type-A extrovert in a largely engineering-based organization has brought to light the influence of my behavior patterns. I can make decisions all day long. I love tackling hard problems and rationalizing tradeoffs to get to a deduced best result.
But does this mean I’m making the best decisions? Not if they’re done in a vacuum. Does it mean people like working with me? Not if they aren’t part of the process.
What I may consider passion for an idea or new initiative can sometimes overwhelm and essentially “steamroll” less commanding individuals.
Again, dial it back.
If you’ve hired the right team, then they are as smart as or are smarter than you, and it is your job to ensure they’re heard. You must create a space that values input more than quick decisions. After all, the right decision could always come from someone else. Give people who think and lead differently the freedom to do their best work. Be real. Be human.
Make your employees, especially the reserved engineers of the bunch, feel supported enough to go out on a limb and make suggestions. By stepping out of the spotlight, you can help the wallflower come out of his or her shell and take center stage. Not only will you be able to utilize an alternative perspective that you had previously not considered, but you will make the employee feel like he or she is making a valuable contribution to the organization.
In addition, sometimes a laser focus on tackling a specific objective can be detrimental to your team’s morale. Employees can feel as though they’re being used as a means to accomplish a task, rather than to be part of a kick-ass, take-charge team. It doesn’t make for happy employees and doesn’t foster the collaborative, ingenuous environment a growing business requires.
It takes time to change your stripes and involves putting people before achievement, which for someone like me is honestly very difficult. It may take more patience than you are accustomed to showing, but the dividends are great.
There is a marked shift in what it takes to be a successful contributor and the leadership skills required to build a successful company. So yes, continue to be all of those great things to which many female leaders aspire, but recognize that at the end of the day, the beliefs and tactics that got you where you are today aren’t necessarily those that are going to get you where you need to go.
Read all responses to the MPW Insider question: What is the biggest leadership lesson you’ve learned in the past year?
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