handsIt’s hard to be a leader in today’s economy. Add that you need equal parts of courage, vision, empathy, and reality (Peter Koestenbaum‘s Leadership Diamond) AND get your work done, it’s almost impossible. I’ve reduced my list of hundreds down to five — and here they are:

1. You move from confident to cocky.
There is a fine line between confidence and cockyness — my definition:

Confident – fully comfortable in their skin, able to hold their own in most situations, but always willing to learn from others to better oneself.
Cocky – fully comfortable in their skin, able to hold their own in most situations, knows it all – and let’s everyone know that fact.

Be more humble — keep your mind open to new ideas. This leads me to my next reason:

2. You speak more than you listen.
Pontification is a rampant disease of leaders. Candidly, as you move from communicating to pontification, you slowly lose the attention of the very people that you are speaking to. Communication is a two-way street — so feel free to let your people know what you are thinking and impart key information, but please fit in a bit of listening to complete the circle. It will go miles whenever you communicate with your team.

3. You care more about your performance than your team’s performance.
This primarily affects new managers than accomplished ones, but it does creep in sometimes when times are hard for the company. We all fall back on touting our own laurels rather than bringing up the rear with stories of the real performers of your company — your team. Try to pick one person and one action every so often and message it to the people that matter. It will pay dividends in exposure and good will from your team.

4. You manage upwards significantly more than downwards.
A corollary to the previous reason — when we focus on ourselves, we tend to manage upwards to hone impressions of our performance. When we spend time doing this, we tend to forget that our job is to manage our people — which is quite easy to do:

a. Give them the information they need to do their job.
b. Motivate them when required.
c. Help them get rid of any obstacles.

If you spend more time on your people, everything else will fall into place. If you would like to read more on leadership, read this.

5. You care more about where you’re going than where you are.
Everyone becomes enamored with shiny objects — add to that a bit of executive ADD, and you tend to look elsewhere for better vistas. I’m not saying not to do this (it’s always good to keep your options open), but you also need to pay attention to where you are. Too many executives come onto the scene, make a big splash, pull in a big client or coup, and then immediately get distracted and look for other shores to conquer. Slow down, enjoy the accolades and see if there are bigger beasts to manage where you are — it might pay off in the long run.

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