Many universal attributes underpin great leadership, from an ability to engage others to supreme communication skills. There are a host of additional skills that many people associate with great leadership, however, despite the fact that they actually undermine your ability to guide others and achieve sustainable success.
Ultimately, this means that aspiring leaders and managers have access to conflicting information and can often heed advice that is far from helpful. It is therefore important to separate fact from fiction in a bid to become a strong leader, while also recognising their own unique weaknesses and areas for improvement.
5 Pieces of Management Advice that You Should Ignore
Here are five generic and inaccurate pieces of management advice that you should ignore at all costs as a leader:
- Leaders set priorities and delegate
While this is a tried and trusted piece of leadership advice, only half of it is actually relevant. Although you must have clearly defined tasks and delegate these to trusted partners and colleagues, for example, it is counter-productive to force priorities that should already be determined.
As author Dave Allen states in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, individuals do not set priorities but have them organically, meaning that the key is to recognise these and act upon them. Simply by clearing your mind with mental exercise such as brain dumps or mind maps (where you utilise images to visualise your thought patterns and work flows), you can immediately identify your priorities and tackle these chronologically.
- Set regular and rigid breaks for your staff
Let’s face facts; we must all take regular breaks from our work, regardless of the nature of our jobs. This does not mean that leaders should set rigid and inflexible breaks for every single member of staff, however, as this can hinder productivity and diminish employee demand.
While leaders may be restricted in terms of their knowledge and the demands created by shift times, they must allow employees to take flexible breaks that suit their outlook and working methods wherever possible. From standard working days and extended breaks to the Pomodoro Technique (which suggests intense sessions of 25 minutes followed by five minute breaks), great leaders must empower their employees to manage their own time and productivity.
- The early bird catches the worm
A similar principle can be applied when setting working hours for employees, as it is tempting to buy into the age-old adage that the early bird catches the worm. While there is some truth to this, it is important to recognise that each individual has their own unique body clock and enjoys variable sleep patterns at different stages of their life.
With this in mind, a progressive manager and skilled leader should always strive to establish flexible working shifts and directives. This allows staff members to tailor their working schedule to suit their own individual body clock and personal commitments, driving higher levels of productivity and efficiency as a result.
Leaders would also do well to bear this in mind for themselves, rather than arbitrarily starting their day early and pursuing an outdated piece of wisdom.
- Stringent Time Management is central to Strong Leadership
Our next point is all about balance, as there is no doubt that productivity and time tracking are intrinsically linked. Tasks must be plotted and managed according to tight time-scales, as this enables sole traders and businesses to succeed and achieve their financial expectations.
Being too stringent can counteract the benefits of time management, however, particularly when you oversee the workloads and deadlines of others. In this instance, you can create an overly pressurised environment where tasks are rushed and completed to a poor standard. Those who obsess about the deployment of time can also increase their own workloads and the demands placed on those beneath them, distracting a manager’s attention from more strategic leadership elements.
- Individual failures must be seized upon and learned from
It is accepted logic that we must all learn from failure, although some managers and aspiring leaders take this notion a little too far. In the mistaken belief that each individual failure must be dealt with strongly and learned from, for example, it is easy for inexperienced leaders to obsess on particular points at the expense of employee morale.
It is important to recognise that nobody is immune from occasional or individual failures, and reacting to each of these can create a culture of fear in which employees become intimidated and introverted. Instead, strive to identify patterns of failure rather than isolated incidents, while also empowering individuals to reflect, learn and develop on their own.