All posts tagged: buy-in

4 Counterproductive Leadership Habits And How To Change Them

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Most leaders I meet are conscientious, wanting to do right by their team. In an attempt to do so, they sometimes end up getting the wrong results. Their behavior as leaders contributes to common staff problems including lack of autonomy, change that doesn’t stick, and a failure to get buy-in.

Why does this happen? Shared habits. Many leaders keep doing the same things because that’s how they’ve always done them. They share those habits with their direct reports, some of whom go on to be leaders. These new leaders end up leading how they were led, repeating the cycle.

You can break this cycle by changing your habits. Here are 4 common counterproductive leadership habits and what to do instead.

Leadership Habit #1
Maintaining an open-door policy

In an attempt to be present and available, leaders allow direct reports to access them on demand. This fosters a dependent relationship. Wanting to avoid mistakes, staff get in the routine of going to the boss for the answers. Instead of developing autonomy, team members become overly dependent on the boss’ intellect. Managers end up bearing a heavy burden. They become the “helicopter” and “lawnmower” parents of the business world.

What to do instead
Maintain an occasionally open-door policy

Closing your door is healthy. It gives you uninterrupted time to get things done. More importantly, it gives your staff space to do their jobs—independently. Yes, making yourself immediately available for true emergencies is prudent, and you should remain in the loop about what’s going on. But remember this—no one benefits when you enable and participate in co-dependent behavior.

Engage with your team daily. Schedule weekly one-on-ones with each staff member. Keep regular office hours, and don’t be afraid to close your door.

Leadership Habit #2
Answering staff questions

Another habit that creates unhealthy dependence is answering staff questions. Team members, wanting to do what’s right, tend to believe the boss has the answer. Every answer given reinforces that the boss knows best.

What to do instead
Let staff answer more of their own questions

Use one of more of these questions next time someone on your team comes looking for an answer.

“What could you do about this?”

“How have you solved that in the past?”

“What’s a possible next step? And the next? And the next?”

“I don’t know. How do you think this should be handled?”

Staff members, without realizing it, often know the answer. They’re closest to the situation at hand and, because of that, have better insights than you. Sometimes they just need help unlocking their own wisdom.

Leadership Habit #3
Telling people what to do

There are times when staff do need direction. New hires require training and insights. Tenured staff confront situations for which they have no experience.

Many leaders mistakenly tell people what to do, forgetting that talk is cheap. What’s said goes in one ear and out the other.

What to do instead
Show people what to do

Showing sticks. The employee sees how it’s done. You can then watch and help her make adjustments.

When a new hire needs to understand how to do something, show, don’t tell. If a tenured employee is facing something new, demonstrate, don’t pontificate. And if you’re lacking the expertise needed, have someone else do the showing instead.

Leadership Habit #4
Attempting to create buy-in

Creating buy-in is a form of selling. Leaders attempt to sell their team on the latest strategy or idea. The hope is that the team will buy in. Sometimes they do. Other times they don’t, creating an uphill battle as the leader attempts to drive things forward.

What to do instead
Let people talk themselves into buying in

Remember that buyers of anything, including ideas, always believe themselves. But may or may not believe you. Let the better salesperson sell. That’s your staff, not you. Your job as a leader is to point the way. The job of the team is to discuss how you’ll get there together.

You can say something like this

“As a leadership team, we’ve decided to <BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF STRATEGY OR IDEA>. Let’s discuss how we’re going to do that. What do you suggest as our next steps?

Scott Wintrip4 Counterproductive Leadership Habits And How To Change Them
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It’s Not What You Think

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Wintrip Consulting Group : Take No PrisonersTake No Prisoners is a free weekly memo from Scott Wintrip that explores how Radical Accountability prospers companies and changes lives. Instead of taking people hostage with outdated, heavy-handed, and ineffective methods of management, measurement, and motivation, Radical Accountability focuses on creating an unwavering responsibility for getting what matters most done.

Getting buy-in, while an admirable concept, is holding back versus helping many companies. If you have doubts about this, just look at the challenges your organization has had at getting people to buy-in to changes or ideas.

The problem with getting buy-in is that it’s typically an exercise in thought, not action. Leaders think about how to create consensus, talk about it, get staff thinking about it, and then hope that all this thinking and talking will turn into action. When it does not, too many leaders abandon solid plans, labeling good strategies or ideas as being flawed. The only flaw, much of the time, is the process for creating buy-in.

Talk is cheap, and thinking, more often than not, does not translate into actions and sustainable changes. Great leaders of good companies use knowledge and input to determine the correct course and strategies for their companies. They then require staff to contribute to how this will be achieved through plans and actions on those plans.

Just like the captain of a ship decides on a course based on key factors and then issues orders for the crew to navigate that course, corporate captains must do the same. Imagine a ship captain polling the crew as to what is the right course. Before long, that ship runs aground, wrecking everyone’s chances for a beneficial outcome.

Action is the strongest and most rapid method for creating buy-in. Thinking and talking get you nowhere but stuck in your head. Not a good place to be, especially with your competitors riding in your wake just waiting for the opportunity to take the lead.

This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action:  Chart the course, then make the course right by getting everyone into action to get there.


Ready to create greater buy-in through action? Check out my Radical Accountability On Call Service.

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Scott WintripIt’s Not What You Think
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