Five Behaviours Every Leading Woman Should Avoid

by Joseph Omoniyi
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Many of us can spot a toxic leader from a mile away, and easily pinpoint the ways in which they’re negatively affecting their team members. But what’s less easy is recognizing when well-intentioned managers are engaging in harmful leadership practices – both because they’re trying to be helpful and because employees feel guilty speaking up about it. This makes spotting and addressing unhealthy managerial behavior among those who are really trying to get it right significantly more difficult.

So, if you’re a leader with a strong desire to support your team, here are five common behaviors to avoid in order to ensure you don’t inadvertently hurt them – despite your best intentions:

Seeking constant agreement

Conflict at work, and frankly life in general, is inevitable. And yet, all too many managers fear it, worrying that it’ll hurt team dynamics and negatively impact their ability to lead. As a result, they tend to address disagreements within their team by either quickly shutting them down or pretending they’re not happening. And while this may give off the illusion that everyone’s getting along and in good spirits, in reality, this practice tends to damage team morale, harm creative problem-solving discussions, and lower motivation.

So don’t back away from conflict. Recognize that disagreements at work provide an opportunity to improve the status quo and build stronger relationships within your organization. When your team members feel empowered to respectfully challenge one another and express different opinions, it spurs innovation and stronger decision-making. And given that conflict resolution requires skills that are essential to workplace success, including analytical thinking, problem-solving, and effective collaboration, it’s important to help your team members see the value in these experiences and in the power of achieving constructive resolution together.

Trying to be everyone’s friend

Many managers believe that it’s important to treat their team like a family or group of friends in order to foster cohesiveness and a sense of belonging. But personal affiliation doesn’t equal effective teamwork and collaboration. While some employees excel with a friendly and open relationship with their managers, it’s important to be really careful with how you approach it. Because friendships with team members can quickly start to blur boundaries and create a dynamic in which it’s uncomfortable to have more difficult conversations. And at its worst, it can cause perceptions of favoritism and a feeling of forced loyalty.

So, when it comes to the friendship question with your team, prioritize their performance and professional growth – if the less formal dynamic seems to be harming either of the two, it’s time to set some more boundaries and distance. Additionally, make sure to be consistent in the relationships you build so that there’s no sense of preferential treatment or bias.

Getting too involved

Sometimes, in an effort to ensure a project’s success or avoid overworking their team members, even the most well-intentioned leaders are guilty of micromanagement. In fact, from too much supervision to placing too big of a focus on minor details, the majority of surveyed workers say they have been managed by a micromanager at some point in their career, per a recent Accountemps survey – 68% said it lowered their morale, and 55% claimed it hurt their productivity.

When you manage a team, you need to remember that while weighing in on every detail may ensure greater results on a given project, it also signals a lack of trust in your employees and limits their ability to navigate future challenges on their own. Letting go a bit, on the other hand, helps equip your team members with the skills and experience they need to thrive going forward. So, be there to offer support when your team members need it, while making it clear that you’re confident they have the skills and tools they need to succeed.

Providing too much autonomy

While some managers are prone to micromanaging, other leaders have the reverse problem: they’re too removed. In an attempt to avoid being controlling or overly involved in their team members’ work, some leaders wind up making their employees feel alone and neglected. In fact, Workhuman research revealed that nearly 30% of workers have felt invisible at work, and in an Interact and Harris survey, eight of the top nine complaints about leaders concerned absent behavior. While giving team members autonomy and a sense of trust is important, it’s equally crucial to be present.

So, if you want to empower and delegate your team members from a distance, make sure to still be available. Offer guidance and support when needed, provide meaningful feedback and recognition on a regular basis, and step up when they need more direction.

Overly shielding your team

Sometimes, in an effort to be positive and helpful, well-intentioned leaders try to hide their team members from company issues or challenges that they fear could hinder their motivation and engagement at work. But while these intentions may be pure, taking this approach risks driving uninformed decision-making and producing a sense of distrust among team members. Even when the updates aren’t positive, as a leader, you need to be transparent with your team members about what’s really going on to help them feel confident that you’re not withholding information from them or trying to make things appear different than they really are. Your team members need to be able to count on you to loop them in when challenges arise so that they can make the right strategic decisions for the team and business.

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