Ignoring Them Doesn’t Work … Embrace Your Leadership Weaknesses (and turn them into strengths)

As a leader, are there any areas of improvement you might need to focus on? Even the greatest leaders balance weaknesses and strengths. That’s why being self-aware is key.

So, here’s an opportunity for you to figure out what those weaknesses or blindspots might be, so you can reach your full potential as a leader.

Turn your liabilities into assets

Here are the six most common leadership liabilities, according to BusinessNewsDaily.com, and how you can turn them into assets:

#1: Micromanaging

Do you check in on your staff several times a day to make sure they’ve completed every little task? In an effort to ensure that things get done, you might have inadvertently become a taskmaster. Perhaps you’re a new leader or you’ve have had role models that might have influenced your management style. But good leaders put trust in their team, even trusting them with sensitive company information. And most times, good employees will step up to show the leader they’re worthy of that trust.

Fix this flaw: The best approach? “Focus on specific outcomes and trusting your team to follow through,” says Keisha A. Rivers, founder, The KARS Group. Do periodic check-ins to ensure progress is being made, “rather than wanting to be cc’d on every single email or requiring your team to provide daily status reports,” she says.

#2: Requiring 24/7 access

An always-connected approach to leadership has become the standard for today’s workplace, but is it always the best way to operate? No, it’s bad for leaders and team members alike. Leaders need to be aware of the impact that 24-7 connectedness has on their teams, making them feel they should be online because their leader is. This can set unreasonable expectations for when they should be working and lead to burnout and feelings of resentment. And for a leader, stretching yourself too thin is unproductive and will do more damage than good for you and the company.

Fix this flaw: Even though project management tools, IM, email, etc. allow managers to “participate in every minute decision that gets made,” says Nicholas Thorne, CEO, Basno, it doesn’t mean they should. If you communicate clearly and set consistent expectations, you’ll empower your team members to work decisively. A good leader understands the need to recharge so employees can come back and stay productive. A leader needs to step back in the same way. Otherwise, you’re more likely to lose focus and make mistakes and exercise poor judgment.

#3: Being stuck in your ways

The way you’re doing things may be working, but it’s important for leaders to constantly make themselves aware of innovative ways to improve their department, and the company as well. The best leaders challenge themselves to continue to grow and learn – and are always inspiring their employees to continue to create innovative solutions.

Fix this flaw: To stay adaptive and innovative, leaders need to open their mind to new ideas and fresh perspectives from their team. “Make it a top priority to not only solicit feedback from them, but also decipher that feedback and act on upon it,” says Liz Elting, co-CEO, TransPerfect.

#4: Not being a team player

Are you walking the talk? Have you ever, in front of your team, criticized another employee or complained when you have to do something you’d rather not do? As a leader, you set the tone for your team’s behavior and work ethic. That’s why a leader needs to be hyper-aware of her behavior and hold herself to the same or higher standards. And that means working as hard or harder to gain your team’s respect.

Fix this flaw: As you create the environment you want your team to collaborate in, you need to be right there in the thick of it. You don’t want to isolate yourself from your team or act like you’re better than them, advises Monahan. “When you make yourself vulnerable,” she says, “you make yourself relatable.”

#5: Having goals, but no vision

Your team always needs to know what they’re working toward. What are the goals? What is the overall vision for the company? Employees need to know their work has meaning and is contributing to a bigger picture. In a recent leadership survey by The Alternative Board, 46% of companies feel a leader’s most important function is “accomplishing goals,” followed closely by “setting a vision” (38%). The two go hand in hand, yet many leaders struggle to craft and communicate a clear vision and the necessary goals to accompany that vision.

Fix this flaw: As a leader, you need to paint a picture for your team. Share with them where your company’s headed in the long-term (the vision) and in the next month, quarter, year, etc. (the goals).   “As leaders, it’s up to you to provide a clear but succinct picture of the vision and desired outcomes for the team,” says Rivers. “People connect to a project or task much easier if they know where it’s headed.” Your team will be more productive. It will motivate them and keep them on track.

#6: Needing to be liked

Leaders are people first, and it’s natural that they want to be liked. But the need to be in everyone’s good favor can sometimes cloud good business judgment. Managers need to sometimes make unpopular decisions, says David Scarola, VP, The Alternative Board. It goes with the territory.

Fix this flaw: The best leaders know that if they make consistently good decisions, and “take the time to explain their reasoning, they will earn the respect of their employees,” says Scarola. Choose respect over being liked every time.

Becoming aware of a weakness is key. Perhaps regular inventories of your past performances and results can help you identify them. This self-awareness is invaluable, since it’s an opportunity for growth that will take your leadership to the next level.