Careful What You Say

June 8, 2018

Susan C. Foster’s recent article “7 Things Great Leaders Never Say”, written for, dissects a number of business clichés and explains why these are not only useless but also potentially damaging. Here are the three we think are the most critical:

“Don’t do anything without asking me first.” The problem with this line is that it shows a complete lack of faith in the employee. Either a manager has properly prepared his employees, or he has not, in which case this must be rectified. If an employee is incompetent and un-teachable, then keeping him around is a poor reflection on the business. Micromanagement not only insults the employees’ abilities, it’s also a waste of time for someone who should be focused on the big picture. As Foster explains, “When leaders micromanage everything, they bottleneck the process and lower employee morale.”

“It’s not personal, it’s business.” Foster explains, “Business is all about relationships, and relationships are personal.” Indeed, this is applicable both to a manager’s relationship with his employees, as well as a business’s relationship with its customers. In the end, we’re all people, so it’s important to remember that fact during any decision-making. This means showing the staff that they’re valued so that the work environment is positive; and this also means showing the customers the same courtesy so they shop at your business and not at a faceless big-box or an Internet monolith.

“Failure is not an option.” Not only is this line unrealistic, it also usually used to put all the responsibility on the employees for success or lack thereof. In truth, there will be occasions where an employee does everything perfectly and a customer is still unsatisfied, or decides to shop at a competitor. Externalities, especially the economy, will have their influences, so to pretend otherwise is foolish. Worse still, managers will “instill fear and anxiety in their employees because mistakes are not allowed.” This makes everyone risk averse and kills creativity.

The common thread to these statements is that they show a lack of faith and appreciation for the staff. It’s important to expect great things from your employees, but don’t box them into no-win situations that will only lead to frustration. Employees must be developed, appreciated, and ultimately entrusted with responsibility.

Not only do employees need training, so do managers. Effective leadership isn’t really a natural gift—some are more suited to it than others, but it’s a skill that requires honing. To make sure the managers in your company are developing into great leaders, be sure to reach out to us at The Brandt Group, where we offer an array of development courses, seminars, and other tools to ensure just that.

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