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Leaving Behind Toxic Waste

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The other day while driving down the freeway a truck pulled up behind me and flashed their lights. There was a car in front of me but I pulled over immediately to let this person go by, as they were obviously in a hurry to go somewhere. Then the truck accelerated to the next car’s bumper and started flashing their lights for them to move out of their way. I thought they would hit the bumper of the car yet they were accelerating even closer. It took a minute for the other car to pull over in the slow lane and then the truck accelerated leaving us behind in a cloud of dark, dirty exhaust. It didn’t take me long to see the parallel between this driver and leaders who push others, wanting everything done yesterday, bullying others to get the job done, taking the credit, and then leaving a wake of toxic waste behind them.

How you ever worked for someone like that? They are driving for results at the expense of everyone they come into contact with and always manage to steal the glory of others work. Anything you do is never good enough, projects are never done soon enough, and they leave you exhausted and forlorn at the side of the road. You can see the black smoke spurting from their toxic wake with bodies strewn along the side of the road. The old command and control leadership style is not dead yet!

What does it take for leaders to become self-aware and realize what kind of a leader they are? Research says that people leave managers not jobs. How many people have left your team in the last 6 months? One year? Life at work can either be heaven or hell, depending on who you report to. Why live in hell when there are conscious leaders out there who respect their employees and work to develop and support them. People who practice emotional intelligence, have self-awareness of their voice and actions and how they influence others, and who strive to become even better at what they do.

Leadership is a learned skill and it takes conscious effort, humility, and continuous learning to be good at it. Managing the talent of others in a team, department or division can be challenging but there are multiple steps one can practice to achieve results.

  • The first step is to treat people with respect. No matter what position they hold everyone deserves to be treated like a human being with kindness and concern.
  • The second step is to learn the strengths and talents of each person on the team. What are they good at? What do they enjoy working on? How can you utilize their strengths to the business at hand?
  • The third step is build a trusting relationship with each person. It sounds easy but it requires constant vigilance of doing what you say you will do, having your employees back, being transparent, and communicating honestly. Everyday!

These simple measures can make a huge difference if practiced on a consistent basis. Employees will give more then is asked if you  create trusting relationships, engage their strengths and treat them with respect. Talent is all around us if we look for it.

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This is not a dress rehearsal. Live life passionately. Engage your talent.

 

 

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