A leader needs his or her credibility to be trusted. While you are human and will make mistakes, it is a trait of preeminent leaders to think ahead and do continuous scenario planning. Here are actions and behaviors to avoid, demonstrating your commitment to traveling the High Road.
1) Pointing the Finger of Blame
The moment you look for the person to blame, you set in motion a self-fulfilling process where blame sparks more blame and that creates even more finger pointing.
As soon as you notice that something is amiss, get everyone focused on how to fix the problem immediately. One of my role model leaders likes to start out with, “It was MY fault! What can we do to fix this?” She says this even when she was not involved. For those around her this action releases tension and the worry that the finger of blame will be pointed at them.
2) Being Above It All
As a leader you will frequently be asked to ‘fix’ something or someone. However, there is a clear difference between empowering people to create as solution and acting aloof.
When you empower someone to find a solution to a problem, be concerned, involved, and encouraging. Frequently follow up with the person to see how the solution is being carried out.
3) Accepting Excuses
Most leaders want and even crave to be liked as well as respected. But once you give an employee a free pass on something inappropriate, the respect you want starts to diminish.
You can be nice and still hold someone accountable. Assume that a cherished niece or nephew is running amok in your house and causes a valuable vase to topple and break. You would gently admonish the child and then offer an alternative way to behave. With love in your heart you might lay down a new ground rule for him or her to observe.
With employees, you behave the same way. With respect in your heart you lay out the standard they must conform to. The respect will be returned tenfold.
4) Not Being an Equal Partner
You are both part of a team and a leader, too. You can be both, yet too often the inexperienced leader will convey, with words and actions, that they are part of the team in name only.
You prove that you are part of the team when you win and lose together. This means if someone has a great day or reaches a goal, you celebrate with the team. When the team realizes it is unable to meet the crucial deadline, you put on your hardhat, roll up your sleeves and work as hard as everyone else.
When employees see that you are truly committed to the team’s success, they will be willing to do whatever you ask and as a high road leader, you would never ask them to do something that you would not do yourself.
5) Staying in the Weeds
A leader learns from experience how to be strategic and think three steps ahead. Yet for many of us, who started out working in the trenches, it can be hard to give up the feeling of being busy and productive based on immediate results.
Many of your actions and decisions won’t pay off for weeks, months or maybe years. And you spend much of the day planning, discussing, and negotiating in endless meetings. So it’s natural to attempt to micromanage events, tasks or people to release the tension.
Teach your employees to remind you when you get overly focused on the weeds or details and encourage them to say to you, “Cease and desist!” whenever you are managing and not leading. Empowered employees need to feel that you trust them, but once you try to do their job, you have undermined them.