Updated: Jan 13
Taking on a leadership role can be one of the most challenging things you do.
Leadership comes from a passionate place deep inside. It is a drive to want to make a difference in the company or business you work for.
Leadership is not for the faint of heart or for those who do not care to take on responsibility.
Leaders are not born; they are grown.
Sure, people can naturally possess qualities that may make them better leaders, but anyway you look at it; those ‘natural’ leaders will have a lot to learn along the way.
Accepting that leadership is a lifelong practice is the first step to being successful. If you think taking a spot in a leadership role will allow you to put your feet up and coast while others do the work for you, you have another thing coming.
As a leader, you will be in a position to model the way. To ‘show’ those around you how to lead and move forward, even during difficult times.
The only way you can do that successfully is by continuing to grow your abilities.
Embracing the responsibility of leadership means a willingness to look at yourself with a discerning eye. When you are discerning, you can recognize small details, accurately tell the difference between similar things, and make intelligent judgements by using such observations. When you apply a discerning eye, you can ‘pick up’ on areas to improve and take action to make the shift.
Here is a list of five things you should not be saying as a leader, and if you find yourself saying any of these statements regularly, consider it a flag to upgrade your operating system.
A leader’s primary tool is the way they communicate.
“I feel like a babysitter.”
I cannot count how many times I have heard a newly promoted leader utter these words, and if I look back on when I first started my career I know, I have indeed spoken them myself.
In the psychological phenomenon called “The Pygmalion Effect,” there is demonstrated truth that a belief can generate a reality.
Essentially if you believe you are a babysitter to your people, they will become the unruly kids and be trapped there based on your beliefs.
If you find yourself saying these words look at it as an opportunity to raise the bar for you and your team. Ensure your team is clear on their roles and understand what your expectations are. Taking time to have these conversations will make you feel less like a babysitter and more like the mentor you need to be.
“It is what it is.”
Leaders make change happen.
I realize there is a level of acceptance required to move forward, and I understand that “It is what it is” can get said with an acknowledgment of a challenge, but quickly add, “and, this is what we are going to do about it.”
“That is not my problem.”
There will be areas outside of your scope of responsibility. However, a leader does not say, “That is not my problem,” it has a defeatist tone. You will not find an influential leader sending this message to a person on their team.
Being a leader means taking responsibility to guide, mentor and even show those around them to overcome problems. You may not have a direct influence on the issue, but there is an opportunity to support.
So by that explanation, it is your problem.
“It’s ‘so and so’s’ fault.”
Blaming someone for a difficulty is offside. If you strive to build a teamwork and success-based culture, blame or to insinuate blame is never appropriate.
When mistakes happen, and they will, you deal with them as a team.
Fostering this type of environment will give way to issues coming to light quickly before they become failures.
Look for every opportunity to foster this environment, and your team will stay loyal, proactive and responsive to your leadership and not fear getting blamed when a breakdown occurs.
“It has always been like that”
Nothing says resignation more than this statement. When you find yourself speaking these words, it is like raising the white flag of surrender.
It is the easy way out.
Recurring problems that “have always been that way” are crying out for attention, for someone to take on the culture-shifting style of leadership it takes to influence deep-rooted problems.
Be that leader that is willing to do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Language is the most powerful tool that a leader can possess.
Subtle shifts in how you use this tool can catapult you from achieving mediocre results to a legacy of greatness.
So by eliminating the five statements above, you can stop undermining your conversations. Instead, try considering these three questions before you communicate:
What is the intention behind the message I want to send?
Will what I am about to say move me closer to; or further away from my goals?
How will I know that the listener understood the message clearly?
If you practice this level of intention in all your conversations, it will start to become part of you and the way you lead.