Ten Top Tips: Things leaders should stop doing today

All leaders need to continuously improve. That means you: leadership expert Valerie Nichols suggests ten things you should stop doing right now.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

1. Don’t make strategic plans…

...Unless you’re prepared to revise them quickly and often. People need to know where they’re heading but it’s important they don’t become overly wedded to detailed plans. Changes will always overtake any plan, so be prepared to adjust.

2. Don’t spend time and money trying to motivate all employees to be high performers…

...Unless you’re certain this is what they really want. Not everyone wants to be a high performing employee. It’s likely that your organisation would be better off with a balance of solid performers and high performers. Recognise the value in both and invest in them accordingly.

3. Don’t hire the best technical people…

...Unless they’re flexible and interested in lifetime learning. If you hire someone with several degrees, those credentials are probably going to be an important source of identity for that person. Will they be prepared to flex from what they know? Hire people who are adaptable and interested in continuous learning.

4. Don’t use performance management for selection...

...Unless the old job is related to the new one. People who are good at what they do are often promoted into a managerial role that requires different and unfamiliar skills. Instead, create a dual promotion track for experts and managers.

5. Don’t make generalisations about generations...

...Unless you understand that all generalisations fail at the individual level. Get to know your people. You’ll get the best out of your teams if you get to know their specific traits and treat them as individuals.

6. Don’t say yes to the role...

...Unless you are sure you can comfortably fit it in or you get agreement to stop doing something else. We all have a finite capacity and each of us, at times, must learn to say no.

7. Don’t surround yourself with people like yourself…

...Unless you’re looking for groupthink. Learn the value of surrounding yourself with others who are not like you, people who may actually make you feel a little uncomfortable and who bring a different perspective.

8. Don’t relax after making a big change…

...Unless you want to be caught off guard when the next change shows up. Ongoing change is the new reality. Develop your own resilience and that of your staff.

9. Don’t see development as a nice-to-have…

...Unless the existing skills in your organisation can ensure its future success. To meet new challenges, people need new skills. Leaders should not only be committed to their own development, they should also act as a role model for learning throughout the organisation.

10. What is your personal 'Don’t'?

What should you stop doing? If you look hard enough, you’ll find something. It could be related to your attitude, the way you communicate or the example you set. Whatever it is, you probably already know about it. So, make an active decision now to stop doing it.

Valerie Nichols is an executive consultant at Hemsley Fraser, the leadership and development company.

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