Blog Posts

5 Things Inexperienced Leaders Get Wrong - And How to Fix Them

If you're like most people, you've had a job in which your superior wasn't exactly the right fit for his/her leadership role. As frustrating and irritating as these experiences are, the benefit you can reap is knowledge and insight into what makes a leader effective no matter their area of expertise. Here are just a few of the many things that inexperienced leaders often get wrong and how you can better position yourself for success when you find yourself in a similar situation:

One-Size Fits All

No business, person, or strategy is exactly alike. A good leader recognizes that while similarities in circumstances will always arise, no two situations deserve an identical response. Effective leaders are fluid, responsive, and understand the importance of contextual leadership. Ken Blanchard is the master of Situational Leadership; for more reading go here .

Lack of Accountability

This extends to every aspect of a business, including the accountability a leader has to their team. No one is going to trust and follow the lead of an individual who doesn't have their back in the face of adversity. Good leaders hold others accountable for their mistakes, acknowledge their own faults when guilty, and never take credit for the successes of their team.

Inconsistent Vision

"Vision" is a term most often used to describe why an organization exists; it’s a singular, concise idea for the future. So it’s important to maintain a straightforward, consistent plan. However, a great leader also recognizes that visions are shaped by those who influence it.  Don't be afraid to make a course correction when a viable opportunity arises - just make sure you communicate the "why" to your team.

Disconnected from Day-to-Day

An aloof boss is an ineffective boss. No one on a team is going to relate to a CEO that takes his own elevator or barricades her office door every day. If you're not connected with the day-to-day lives of your employees, you're not nurturing an environment of growth and community in the workplace and your talented employees will begin to look elsewhere.  Walk the shop floor, see how things are going, ask how people are doing, and show them you understand.

Slow to Deal with Good or Bad Performance

Effective leaders deal an even hand when it comes time for criticism and acknowledgment. Documenting both poor and positive performance then speaking about both to employees will help them understand their areas of strength and weakness.  Celebrating employees' accomplishments when they go above and beyond is equally as important in order to promote growth, success, and personal investment in the future of the organization.  If you’d like to read more on improving your performance management tactics read how Adobe’s new practice is taking hold and shifting the minds of other organizations like Deloitte and General Electric.

Above all, an effective leader knows that they're never done learning; they believe in personal growth and development, and are humble enough to change their behavior in service of serving others and their organization. That's why the team at GumballEnterprises offers leadership coaching, facilitation, and leadership consultingrom a unique, diverse, and global perspective. They want to help you grow. If you're ready to improve your role as a leader in your own organization, let's have a conversation. Give us a call today at 206.931.1865 to find out more.



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The fence around your playground.

Imagine a playground, in the middle of an urban city, without a fence. The teacher is standing in the middle of the field, with kids huddled next to her. The children are scared and staying close so to assure her protection lest they travel too far and hurt themselves, or get hit by a car, or stolen away by a stranger. Very little movement, very little creativity, very little independence to express themselves.

Now imagine that same teacher and the same group of kids on a playground, in the middle of an urban city, with a fence. The teacher again standing in the middle of everything, but now her kids are running freely and playfully throughout the field. They roam along the fence perimeter fearlessly. They experiment on multiple apparatuses, exhausting themselves silly. The only differentiator between fear and freedom is the fence, the clarity of a parameter that provides just enough, but not too much, structure.

Over the last 20 years while working with leaders in their public, private and non-profit playgrounds, I've noticed this same 'fence effect'. The great leaders are those who provide just enough container to keep the riffraff out while providing the freedom within for people to roam. I love Google for this reason. I love IDEO for this reason. They know exactly why they exist, they have a clear purpose, certain pedagogy, tested methodologies, but within their ethos the sky is the limit, ideation thrives and design is born.

This is no easy feat. Great companies like these make it look simple.......and we all know simple is exquisite yet far from easy.

Excellent leadership, clarity of purpose, clarity of roles, objectives, resources, and roadmaps are all good examples of the necessary structures to build a thriving culture from the get-go. However, it's interesting to notice as I work with more and more start-ups, that at times this 'fence-like' structure is underrated amidst their contemporary praise for entrepreneurial chaos, and I believe they suffer. An environment with particular, necessary, and uninhibited standardizations can only help to unleash creative potential, not hinder it.

All this to say, isn't it beautifully ironic that a sturdy fence is precisely what instills the sense of freedom to expand and explore?

Ann Michael Dorgan, CEO GumballEnterprises