No leadership failure is the result of one poor decision. Failure happens because, over time, leaders lose their way. They may become distracted by profits or forget their company’s values. Sooner or later, the company ends up in a scandalous headline.
Don’t let this scenario happen to you. When you read news stories about the problems companies are grappling with, take time to reevaluate the road you’re heading down as a leader.
4 leadership lessons
Here are some leadership lessons we can learn from the headlines:
Promote innovation and inclusion. In recent years, disruptive companies have been heralded for their innovation. We’ve looked to innovators as examples of how to do business. But as news stories have revealed, promoting innovation is not synonymous with promoting equality and inclusion.
In any type of company, leaders may unconsciously favor those who are like them. They may give more consideration to job seekers who remind them of themselves. They may listen more intently to the ideas of go-to employees. This mindset creates a feeling of exclusion for those who are different. And it stifles innovation.
Take the time to examine how you respond to employees. Ask yourself if you’re valuing everyone equally. While you can’t—and shouldn’t—act on every individual’s ideas, they all deserve your respect and attention.
Embrace transparency at all levels. Every so often, problems such as falsified information or accounting issues come to light. These types of problems indicate a lack of transparency.
As a leader, you don’t have control over every decision in your company. In fact, you should empower managers to make choices on their own. But you do need to have a system of checks and balances in place.
This is why transparency is paramount. Employees need to know how their actions reflect on the company and that there are standards. This process starts with you. Be open and honest about your decisions. Explain your choices and tie them back to your company’s values. Your transparency will encourage others to hold themselves accountable and prevent questionable behaviors from going unnoticed.
Know your employees’ limits. It’s common for leaders to set high goals for employees. But the news reveals that unrealistic goals can lead employees to cut corners.
This type of situation shows a huge disconnect between leadership and employees. It’s your job to know and respect your employees’ limits. Start by playing an active role in employee performance reviews. Pay attention to how managers describe employees’ strengths and use that information to set goals.
Then ask managers for their honest opinions about overarching company goals. If there are gaping holes in employees’ abilities and experiences, find out what form of training will get your team to the level they need to be at. It might take longer to hit a goal, but your company will be stronger for it in the long run.
Understand that toxicity seeps in slowly. Another lesson: Employees may fall back on the “It’s our policy” excuse when dealing with customers and co-workers. Instead of using common sense, team members may let toxic actions go unchecked due to company procedures or culture. And that’s on leadership.
Never overlook the humanity of your company. Employees must be able to question company policies. They need to be able to discuss the ethics of what they’re being asked to do.
Consider conducting value audits. When announcing a policy, remind the team of the company’s core values. Then have managers ask employees if they feel the decision reflects those beliefs. If not, then the choice needs to be reevaluated. This will keep toxicity from slowly entering the company one small decision at a time.
When you read news stories about a leadership debacle, don’t just think “Glad that wasn’t me.” Learn from others’ mistakes. And more important, take steps to create a better workplace for your team.
As a manager, you need effective leadership skills to inspire employees to achieve team goals. Learn how to foster team cohesiveness and collaboration.