10 Tips to Prevent Automated Leadership
Between cars that park themselves and speakers that seem to hide a butler named Alexa, we nearly no longer need to think for ourselves. When you offer virtual reality site visits and 3D printing of missing parts for your equipment, leaving our chair is no longer needed to satisfy customers. But beware. Neither benefit helps you in leadership. Fail to think and fail to get up and interact and people will cease to be productive. Attempt to automate leadership and employees will start looking for a new one. Or worse, employees will take what you do (or don’t) offer as personal and build the very resentment that you wanted to avoid in the first place. Save the automation and influence of technology for the tasks you manage, the lists that are never ending, and the project plans your customers deserve and demand. Leadership requires conscious effort, an engaged leader, and actions that align with each of these ten tips.
1. Talk with Them
Surely this one is obvious, but maybe the meaning is missing. Talking is not the same as IM’ing someone across the office. Talking is not the same as texting, emailing, or even delegating your direction through that next-level manager. Talk with those you lead, face to face. Ask questions and act interested.
2. Consider Their Opinion
Those you lead do the job daily. They are the ones in the ditches, whipping out the fancy equipment and marking or fixing problems. When you ask a question, consider their opinion and give it value. They are usually closer to the problem than the leader. Robots take survey data. Leaders show value in the opinions of people.
3. Confer with Them
Rather than talking at those you lead or sharing the direction that you’ve chosen from your own leader vacuum, ask employees for their input. You might use their idea. You might stick with your own direction, but the value of including others is more powerful than most leaders imagine.
4. Balance the News
Unless you want to trigger the automated response of groaning from those you lead each time you want to talk or meet, balance the information you’re sharing. “No news is good news” is not a leadership strategy that motivates. Tell them the good news and the parts that might not be as fun.
5. Mind the Assumptions
If you lead a larger team, there will be actions and words that you hear about second hand. Dig deeper before you take action on assumptions. Computers use majority rule and numerical data to come to conclusions, often missing the human element. Leaders must include it before taking action.
6. Use Emotional Intelligence
Much like the saying, “if common sense were common, everyone would have some,” if emotional intelligence were based on smarts, every smart leader would use it. And yet, few leaders do. Become keenly aware of differences and personalities and motivations of those they lead. Turn that awareness into actual application.
7. Make Adjustments
You simply can’t be asleep at the wheel in a leading position any more than you can drive an excavator while napping. Leaders constantly adjust their delivery, their message, and their coaching efforts, maybe even more so than the driver has to adjust that front loader bucket.
8. Break Habits
Maybe you can’t stand stupid and respond with yelling when you see it. Or maybe you have a habit of getting impatient every time that employee starts a story. Stay conscious of your own reactions and break patterns of behavior that could lead to you having a bad reputation.
9. Focus on Learning
Only the computers in sci-fi movies appear to learn in real time. Robots, software, and technology enhancements only learn the info put into them. Leaders, on the other hand, can process new information, discount old data, and change decisions, as well as develop new skills and improved habits. The most successful leaders do all of it.
10. Drive Learning
Those same best leaders set the example. They learn new techniques, new skills and other personalities. Then they encourage engaged employees to learn and grow in their own areas of desired development. Have the training. Hire the coaches. Do the follow-up and watch the results level rise quickly.
THIS COLUMN EXPLORES TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH CO-WORKERS, CUSTOMERS AND INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS.