This great blue ball we call home just turned a year older and already companies and teams are getting together to discuss their plans for the New Year. You could be busy setting your sights on higher revenues, bigger accounts, more employees, or even a larger office space, but let me stop me right there! We leaders have a little bit of “old business” to take care of.
Before ringing in the new, businesses need to make sure that there actually is space for the new, by kicking out the old and ineffective habits.
Here’s my list of outdated and ineffective habits that need we all need to work on consistently.
Top-down leadership, is a term that is archaic and belongs only in management textbooks, under the “Traditional Organizational Structures” section! As a leader if you see the slightest signs of top-down leadership in your organization, step right in and kick it out. Top-down leadership is bureaucratic, slow, and no match for today’ fast paced business world. It muddles communication and reduces transparency. Besides the younger workforce of Gen Xers and Millennials prefer easy accessibility to leadership. By continuing with a top-down leadership approach, you could even scare away the best talent from stepping foot in your company.
For me, seeing someone I work with being risk averse is a huge red flag. It’s a sure sign that a business or project will stagnate. It’s not just that these people or companies fail to take risks, but it’s that they accept constraints, and that is never a good thing! Don’t go taking crazy risks, but ever so often, challenge the status quo and take calculated risks. Use the very fear of risk taking, to drive you to take smarter risks.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory is universal, however I find it funny when I see it creep its way even into the C-Suites of an organization. Many leaders want to protect their own turf, and to make sure that they always stay protected. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as leaders are not just doing what is good only for themselves but also for the company. Professionals at all levels need be weary of turf protection, especially since it’s human nature to want to protect oneself. This tendency can creep up on the best of us and we can beat it by asking if we are acting for the greater good of an organization.
Hiring Based on Comfort
Hiring based on comfort is an offshoot of turf protection! Many times, we tend to hire people based on our level of comfort about their skills and ideas. If their skills and ideas seem too strong, we feel that they could take over our jobs or end up pushing too many boundaries in a company. Trust me, you want to be hiring future CEOs or CTOs in every job opening within your company. Every professional in your organization needs to be a leader in his/her own right. If you feel threatened by someone who may be better than you, then maybe you need to focus on developing your own skills rather than thinking about the power play even during the interview process!
Being out of touch with reality
Companies often tend to operate under “perceived reality,” which may very well just be an illusion that the top management has created! Businesses need to get a grasp on reality and they need to get a grasp real quick. Too many companies have been stuck in a fictional world due to their own assumptions. They tend to focus on the wrong target market and end up building the wrong product or service for this market. The best way to be aware of reality is to listen and keep an open mind. There needs to be a culture of listening and learning throughout an organization. Keep gathering insights from your stakeholders and process them – its the only way to get close to the real picture.
Slow to react
It is not just about gathering insights, about also the speed at which you act based on the insights! Trust me, there is little place for reactive businesses today, and absolutely no place for businesses that are slow to react! Once you gather insights and get as close to the real picture as possible, don’t bide your time and theorize about the way forward. More often than not, these insights will actually guide you to where you must go and how to get there in the quickest possible way. Act on the insights from your organization to continuously innovate every aspect of your business and forge ahead in the right direction.
This New Year, I encourage every leader and company to become a better version of their current selves, before embarking on newer adventures. Honestly, there is no point in winning a bigger account or hiring more employees if old and ineffective habits are still running the show. Here’s wishing all the curious leaders out there a prosperous and productive 2015!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!