Almost insulting leadership advice you may hear way too often
o, let's start with most common "advice." Hear this: Smile with sincerity.
They say that smile helps people relax around you and that smiling is a powerful tool. First, let us forget "powerful," "great," "disrupting," and ther big words with no real meaning, and just focus on smile.
What do you think, our experienced leader well in your adult years, is it better to deal with a person with a smile or with one who yells and screams? A smiling person is better? Good. And when you learned it? When you were, what, a few months old? Good. So, there is no need to be reminded of that because that's something we know all our life.
Let's move on. "Question with curiosity."
Well, this is wrong on several levels. First, the fact the you are asking the question means that you are curious by definition. What will you do with the answer is another issue, but you, a proven leader, certainly don't need to have eyes wide open like a six years old, staring at the employee like you saw your late grandmother, God bless her soul.
We see such a look too often and it's hard to focus on the business when the other side looks surprised when you hear "money," "project," "ROI," or something similarly unexpected at the business meeting. If you pay too much attention to the look, you may lose the substance under the surface.
"Show that you care. Show them how you fell. Show compassion."
Very often business advice sound like you have to guide your employees by the hand and that it's almost your duty to make them a sandwich for lunch. This is wrong. If you provide a good working environment, if your employees have a decent salary, if they can freely express their ideas, they will know that you care.
You don't have to artificially show that you care, that you think about them every single moment, at work and at home, and that you are sooooooo pleased that somebody is employee of the month. A fair relationship is enough: be fair to your workers, they will be fair too. No need to act as a parent. But, you learned that in the kindergarten too.
Another widely spread advice is "Get out of your office and speak to people."
Well, this is a very good candidate for the top anti-advice. Try to name just one successfull leader that spends all day in his/her office. There is none. This is and advice with just one goal in mind: to make a business coach sound more important, more philosophically inclined.
Every, and we mean every, successfull leader talks to the people. That's why there are strategies for sucessfull meetings: if leaders were stuck to their offices there would be no meetings, right?
You see, in a sea of people who are just waiting to give you a great leadership advice, there are many of them who never tried to lead a team, a group, or a company.
That leads to "advice" that are, let's be honest here, just a waste of time. They are written for a totally wrong target group: they teach about life at a kindergarten level while they want to target experienced, adult leaders. They are especially dangerous if young managers try to follow them.
If you are a young leader, ask yourself if are you reading a good leadership book or some life advice that you already know. And instead of reading too much, work and connect with other leaders with more experience. That's the best school of them all. ■