5 Things You Should Never Do…

by Susan West

Stop Right There! Leaders often make these five mistakes when under pressure or feeling stressed. Take the time to observe whether you have any of these habits and make a choice to change so you do not lose your leadership power.

1. Apologize for something that is not your fault or not your responsibility. “I’m sorry” is an overused statement and in many cases it has lost it’s meaning. Using this phrase is often a habit that woman managers fall into without realizing it. Watch how you use this phrase. For example, it is not necessary to apologize for not being available to take a call as many people state in their voice mail messages. Save using this term for when you really need it!

2. Whining by using a tone of voice or choice of words that sound like a young child.
Our effectiveness can be immediately minimized when we sound like a small child complaining because they have to pick up their toys. Often we can find ourselves “whining” when overloaded or surprised with additional work or feedback that we perceive as negative. Be careful to use a matter of fact approach if you feel the need to respond to a situation.

3. Taking credit for someone else’s work, no matter how small. As a leader, you already are in a position of some influence and recognized for some accomplishment. Not recognizing someone else’s work, leaving the impression that the work completed is yours (when it wasn’t) or worse yet, stating that the work done is yours (when it wasn’t) will lead to your losing credibility, trust and influence sooner or later. Abraham Lincoln even suggested taking it a step further by letting the team take credit for your work /idea with his quote “If you are a good leader, when your work is done, your aim fulfilled, your people will say – we did this ourselves.”

4. Dressing sloppily. Even in these times of casual business dress, being aware of your appearance and ensuring that you represent not only the position you desire but also the person you want to be is critical to your power and effectiveness. People do not take seriously the words of someone who has a rumpled, spotted shirt or blouse like they do a person who has a pressed, professional look.

5. Lying, not admitting that you may not have an answer. As we climb the leadership ladder, we are often expected to “know it all.” You may feel the expectations of already having all the necessary “experience.” In reality, times and business situations are changing so quickly, we cannot “know it all or have had all the necessary experience.” Do not be afraid to say “I do not know.” When under pressure or during stressful times, this can feel awkward. However, lying just to look good is never a good choice. A better choice is to say “I do not know” and then follow up with whatever action you can take “to know.”

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