This is a guest post from Cherie Mclaughlin. Opinions expressed by Engineering our Future contributors are their own.
When you’re in a constantly evolving industry and work in the STEM field, effective leadership is critical to the success of an organization. And as rewarding as it can be, being a leader is difficult.
Every leader has weaknesses. But you don’t necessarily need to improve or master all of your weaknesses. The ones you do need to address, however, are those that can derail your leadership goals and ultimately hinder your organization from realizing its potential. If you want to be the best leader possible, you must learn to identify the roadblocks and make the necessary changes. Here are seven common roadblocks to watch out for:
Even the most knowledgeable, skilled, and savvy leaders in the world have room for improvement. Don’t ever get to the place where you think you’ve reached your peak, because you haven’t! Keep a growth mindset and embrace lifelong learning.
For example, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve never earned an MBA, maybe taking that step could benefit your career and those under your leadership in the future. These days, you can take online courses that fit your other commitments. Pursuing an MBA can deepen your knowledge of management, strategy, and business in general. And it will also teach you about self-awareness and self-assessment in the process.
Lack of Coachability
The best leaders are teachable. They can be coached in areas where improvement is needed, and their egos don’t get in the way of their growth. If you don’t have a mentor, get one now! Always remain open to sound advice from those who are more experienced or who may have a different take on situations. Once you receive the advice, internalize it so that it becomes a natural part of what you do.
Lack of Emotional Intelligence
Self-awareness is critical to effective leadership. You must know how to take an honest assessment of yourself from time to time so that you can take steps toward improvement. And you must be able to pick up what others are thinking or feeling. Otherwise, you risk being thought of as distant, unapproachable, or isolated. Show those around you that you care by considering their thoughts and emotions.
The very essence of a leader is someone who guides people through ups and downs by example. If you’re not fully engaged in a project—or your organization as a whole—those under your leadership will notice. Stay motivated to excel and put everything you have into your organization, and you’ll see others start doing the same.
In any line of work, you must be able to focus. Otherwise, there’s no way to do your job effectively. Oftentimes, leaders must multitask to keep their organization operating well. So, if you struggle with staying focused, find ways to minimize distractions. Also, when at all possible, avoid multitasking when there are more critical things to be done.
Failing to Delegate
Finally, stop trying to do everything yourself! No leader can carry on indefinitely on their own. Focus your time and energy on the things you do best, and delegate everything else to others. When delegating, be sure to clearly communicate what you want, and learn to check-in without micromanaging.
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. You must always seek to grow your knowledge and seek out sound advice. Also, it’s essential to practice emotional intelligence and show total dedication to your organization. Lastly, take steps to cut down on distractions so that you can concentrate on the task at hand, and don’t hesitate to delegate things to others on your team. While there’s more to being an effective leader, implementing these tips will take you to a new level.
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