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A friend recently shared the experience of a new leader being hired to replace a recently promoted manager. Even though the team liked the former manager, his shortcomings were still the topic of discussion.  There were hopes that this new leader would change everything.  She’d right all the wrongs of her predecessor and set a course that everyone could follow.  This of course is a bit idealistic but a team has the right to dream.

Things started very good.  She brought bagels in for the team and sincerely showed an interest in everyone by making her way from desk to desk learning a little about each person.  The promise of good things to come was alive.  The ending to the story wasn’t so happy.  Within ten days, the new leader had lost her team.  They didn’t go so far as to quit, but the enthusiasm, optimism, energy and respect was gone.

There were a number of factors at play, but the following two were the deal breakers and could easily be a part of any leader’s story if not careful.

  1. Hold useless, unproductive meetings
    • Show up late or blow off completely meetings the leader scheduled
    • Have no agenda or worse, have an agenda and ignore it
    • Rambling on about unimportant topics (My friend’s manager spent time on what food should be in the break room and whether new pictures should be taken for company badges).
    • Leave little to no time for key issues the team needs input on
  2. Don’t make decisions or “flip flop”
    • Avoid making decisions
    • Make decisions to back up a team member, only to reverse it when opposition is raised
    • Be a “people pleaser” and thereby make everyone feel they were on shaky ground on even the most straightforward decisions.
    • Make ambiguous decisions that are unclear on how to proceed (NOTE: Teams know that every decision won’t necessarily make their lives easy.  They simply want certainty)
    • Reverse a decision and thereby make the team look bad

It will be an uphill battle for this leader to recover her lost team.

Where do you stand as a leader in these two categories?  Ask your people!  They will give you to real scoop.

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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