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7 Ways Your Leadership Is Falling Short

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You lead your company. Your team. Your life. It’s all good … Except when it’s not.

You didn’t get to where you are today without some really good effective leadership skills … Though maybe you did, thanks to the leadership skills of others. We can’t forget the shoulders of the giants we’ve stood on to get where we are.

You’ve earned and been appointed “partner,” “founder,” “leader,” “manager,” “director,” pick your title – you’re in it … You are it.

And it’s going really well … Mostly … Maybe it’s going horribly. In any case, if you’re reading this, you’re likely looking for extra tips and tools to be even more effective.

In service of consistent growth and betterment, perhaps you wonder: How can I be more effective? How can I inspire more productivity, autonomy and engagement in my team? Or how can we take our performance way beyond what anyone here thinks possible?

OR… Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum, needing a bit more than “betterment”: Why don’t they do what I say? Why don’t they think I’m inspiring? Why are they so messed up? What’s their problem?

Regardless of your circumstance, your position, the size of your organization, your industry, or even regardless of if you’ve been deemed “leader” or not, there are things you’re doing that are either optimizing your leadership and presence or slowing it down. For this post, I’ve chosen just 7. Best news of the day?

Each of these are easily tweakable. Have fun.

1. Your Default Presence

Stop, don’t change a thing. Notice your posture right now, your breathing, your facial expression, the look in your eyes. Notice. Just notice. If I were to put someone in front of you and have you start interacting with them, without awareness of this secret super power, you’d likely slip into a “default presence mode” – the presence you hold when you’re not fully attentive and intentional about how you’re “showing up”. (Think twisted face, squinted eyes, furrowed brow, zoned out expression, slumped posture, breath held, tone terse… you get the idea.)

Remedy: In any interaction you have with anyone, check yourself. Consider “Is my presence contributing to things feeling good and helpful, interested, attentive… or not?” Adjust accordingly.

2. Your Inability To Truly Listen

If you’re hitting number 1 above, and shifting it, this will be easier. In the land of multi- tasking and way more to-do’s on our list than either of us are ever going to have time for in our lifetime, true listening and presence, is a rare gift. Which gives you a nice competitive empathetic leaderly edge. Listen up. That person in front of you? Your team? Your child?

Hold that there’s nothing more important than that conversation and their presence in this moment. Give them your full attention. Listen for what’s being said, and what’s not being said. Nod, repeat it back, breathe, ask questions, engage, follow up, hug… do whatever is authentic for you to do when you’re truly present and listening.

3. You’re Not Giving Direct Feedback

Not a lot to say here because this one is pretty cut and dry. If you have feedback for someone, and you’re giving it through other people, I guarantee you by the time it’s reaching them, the power, context, and empathetic bond of it is gone. Not to mention likely the accuracy as well. This one is easy to fall into – all the time. If you have feedback for someone, go the extra mile to give it directly. Give it with compassion. Clean it up so it serves them well. (Note: There’s a whole process and art to giving effective feedback. If you’re interested, let us know. Here’s an example.)

4. Your Exhaustion/Busyness

I find little as uninspiring as someone who’s main intent is to convince their team/colleagues of how tired or busy they are. How about you? We’re all busy. We all have the same 24 hours (I know, that annoys me when I hear that too, but it’s true). Your being exhausted and busy does not serve anyone.

The remedy for this one is two-fold: 1) Take care of yourself. Check the food you’re putting in your body. Your hydration levels. Your physical activity. Your quality and quantity of sleep. Your nightly cocktail and TV hour. Your self talk. If these things are not supporting your energy… hop to it. Your exhaustion is highly within your control.

And, 2) Stop talking about how busy you are. Busy talk just adds to “busy-ness” creating the never ending cycle of “busy energy”. Seriously, yes, you can delegate, collaborate, streamline and organize your to-do’s, get help, make changes, of course. I get it. AND, beware the “busy” bug. Oddly the more you profess it, the “truer” it will become. And be honest with yourself about why it’s so important for you to have. (For example: Is busy-ness your way of seeming valuable, avoiding being asked to do things, avoiding saying no? Great places to look, and that’s a whole other article.)

5. Your Woe Is Me – It’s So Hard Stance

Have a complaint? Change it. Make a “request” or make a “suggest” to shift it. Lead the change you want to see. Appreciate what’s working. And whatever is not working for you? Part of our power as human beings and leaders of our life is that we get to design it in a way that’s better. The “woe is me” stance is contagious too, if you have even a bit of this don’t be surprised when your team climbs on and finds their own “woe is me”…. You can sink or float a ship with the exact same information… the difference is in the energy, intent and focus of that information: “Woe” or “Go”?

6. You’re Missing The Extra Step Or Even Simple Follow Through

Ever had this happen? 98% of the way there, it’s all good, and that last extra 2% gets tabled, taken for granted, dropped. That 98% can be so easy. That last 2%… not always the case. Take that last step. Follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do. Even if it’s a quick note of “Hey, I know I said I’d do this, it’s on my list, wanted to let you know…” This means more than you know to the people you lead.

7. You’re Taking Things For Granted

Say “thank you”. (It’s free!) Find the greatness in everything. Acknowledge the people in your life and on your team for the impact they have on you, on the work you do together, on the bottom line of the organization. Tie their impact into the purpose of what you’re all doing together in the first place. “See” your people… really see them. I’ve found that there is pretty much nothing that is too small to be acknowledged. Pick the authentic thing that resonates for you, and lean into it.

Are these 7 the be all and end all on this topic? Not even close. But they’re 7 that you can easily make a shift with right now in this moment if you wish. Try even one of them and share back how it lands for you.

Need a little extra inspiration? We encourage you to check out a poem that Anese wrote titled Ode to Leadership.

About The Author

Anese Cavanaugh is the creator of the IEP Method as well as a leadership & collaboration advisor, strategist, and thinking partner for business leaders in the design, service and innovation spaces. Through her speaking, writing, and creative leadership coaching & training programs, teams rediscover and build cultures of collaboration, authenticity and healthy leadership. The result? Energized collaboration, engaged workplaces and positive impact. Follow her @anesecavanaugh and visit her website .

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