How to be an effective leader (and avoid common mistakes)

by John Hilton30 Nov 2017
The majority of Australians (two-in-three) identify poor leadership as the main motivation to search for a new job, according to recent research by LinkedIn.

This new research is not surprising, said Keith Ayers, CEO of Intégro Learning Company.

“In fact, I saw research several years ago from the American Human Research Institute stating that 70% of people leaving their organisations did so primarily because of their relationship with their immediate manager,” Ayers told HRD.

“People join companies, and leave managers.”

One of the more interesting pieces of research Ayers has seen has come from Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave.

Branham reports that research conducted by The Saratoga Institute found that 89% of managers believe that employees leave the organisation for reasons related to money, according to an article quoted in the Harvard Management Update by Marie Gendron.

The Saratoga Institute research also shows that 88% of already-departed employees say they left for reasons other than money.

“This disconnect in perception makes sense though,” said Ayers.

“When the manager asks the departing employee why they are leaving they will almost always say ‘I was made a better offer.’ What they won’t say is: ‘I’m leaving because you are a jerk and I can’t work for you!’”

Ayers added that there are multiple common mistakes leaders make in their goal to become effective.

He said the first mistake is to aspire to be a leader because of what you expect to get as a result – increased pay, position, status, autonomy, perks and recognition.

“If your focus is on what you will ‘get’ – you will not be an effective leader,” said Ayers.

“Great leaders focus on what they have to “give” – the value they can create for their organisation both in business results and in building a team of high performing, passionate people.”

The second big mistake is to believe that you are better than, or smarter than, your direct reports, said Ayers.

“No matter how smart you are, your team members have ideas that you have never thought of, and they see things that you can’t see,” he added.

“Being open to learning from everyone on the team is a key ingredient to leadership success.”

Going into 2018 and beyond, Ayers said leaders should have the following attributes:

Humility – the ability to see others’ needs as at least as important as your own. Humble leaders build trust – arrogant leaders destroy trust.

The ability to respond quickly to change – to be adaptable. The world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. Leaders need to be alert and agile to capitalise on the opportunities being created by these changes.

The ability to build a team of proactive, highly engaged people who are inspired by the leader’s vision of what they are capable of achieving.

Leadership is a Journey – a lifelong learning journey.

Keith Ayers is Chairman and CEO of Intégro Learning Company and author of Engagement is Not Enough: You Need Passionate Employees to Achieve Your Dream (Elevate, July 2008).

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