It is widely accepted that the best leaders are those who lead by example. These types of leaders demand respect and loyalty from their followers. But how can you take that next step in your career if it’s unclear whether or not you’ve been successful leading the employees you currently have? As a leader, your success is directly correlated with your employees’ success.
So, if you have plateaued at a middle management position or have been climbing up the corporate ladder only to hit a glass ceiling, it may be time to change your leadership style. Although President Theodore Roosevelt used the idiom “speak softly and carry a big stick” for his foreign policy, he was notorious for speaking up for progress. Have you been staying quiet when you know it’s time to speak up? Here are five ways doing just that is killing your career and putting your promotion on the back burner.
It stifles creativity.
One of the most debilitating forces in our careers is the fear of failure. The anxiety that accompanies presenting your ideas to your office can lead you to not speaking up. Whether the fear of failure is based on failing to lead your team successfully or failing to generate game-changing solutions, not speaking up stifles creativity. Ideas are generated in conversation. Regardless of whether your specific concept comes to fruition, simply bringing it up in meetings or brainstorming sessions may actually lead your team to stronger, more-effective ideas that not only benefit you, but showcase your leadership.
It hinders successful productivity.
As a leader, it is important to not only lead by example, but by word and deed. When you see employees who are slowing the overall team’s productivity, or are aware of policies and procedures that aren’t efficient and effective do you take corrective action? By allowing certain things to continue without addressing your concerns, you are showing your team that striving for excellence isn’t a top priority for you. And, your top performers who are highly engaged could soon become disenfranchised by your seemingly lack of attention and may stop caring altogether. Speak up about things you see that are affecting productivity and encourage your employees to come to you with areas needing improvement. Showing you care will in turn foster their overall buy in, as well.
It gives you an unwanted reputation.
A large aspect of leadership is how your followers perceive you. People want to follow an individual they respect who will encourage creativity, teamwork, and open discussion. Regardless of your actual characteristics, withholding encouragement and constructive feedback may give your team the impression that you are apathetic, disengaged, or ill-equipped to lead the team. Control your own reputation by creating an open-discussion organizational culture bent on encouraging one another, showing appreciation, and developing employees. Your employees will be loyal to you through mutual respect.
It maintains the status quo.
One threat to businesses today is maintaining policies and procedures for the sole reason of “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” The Latin phrase “status quo” literally means the existing state or condition. If your team’s existing condition is striving for excellence in everything and pursuing innovative solutions to everyday issues, then it may be good to simply maintain the status quo. But, for the rest of the world, this phrase is a mantra that leaders are constantly trying to break through. However, not speaking up about new ways to do things and accepting the way things are as the norm, may actually be hindering your company from branching out and separating itself from the competition. Be brave and speak your mind about why things are done a certain way. There may be instances where change could supercharge your leadership power and get the most out of your team.
How has speaking up helped you in your career? What have you done to build a culture of open communication at your organization? Let us know in the comments section below!
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