Regardless of the size of your organization, the size of your team, or the amount of time you have held a leadership role – there will be times when you may feel as though you are not being taken seriously in your position. If this resonates with you, take a look at these nine traits that may be preventing you from being taken seriously as a leader:
1. You don’t keep your word and commitments
The key to being respected and trusted as a leader is to be true to your word and to follow through on your commitments. Both your words and your actions are everything, especially when you are under scrutiny as a leader. One example of this is when you finish a meeting and end with the phrase, “We should grab lunch sometime,” and for that never to occur, only for the next interaction with that individual to end with the same empty phrase. To make it simple, unless you sincerely intend on fulfilling, do not make a commitment.
This also applies to over-committing. As a leader be careful not to over-extend your workload as this can cause you to consistently fall short of your commitments and damage your credibility.
2. You’re always late to meetings
We’ve all had those mornings when a train is canceled unexpectedly, or your car won’t start, or the bus breaks down. Sometimes being late is unavoidable. However, chronic lateness gives off a terrible impression. A responsible leader should not appear disorganized and as if they don’t have their act together. A conscientious leader cares about other people’s time and shows up promptly ready to motivate their team.
3. You lack confidence
Maybe you have just been promoted to a leadership role, maybe you are working in a new field or with new responsibilities, or maybe you are an experienced leader who is facing criticism for a decision gone wrong. Either way, a lack of confidence tends to show in everything you do and say.
Try to focus on the fact that you are in a leadership role because you deserve it. Yes, it is a big responsibility that needs to be handled with care and respect, but, if you take time to analyze, plan, communicate with your team, constantly learn, and respond to feedback, you can tackle anything.
4. Breaking promises
In life, and business, people who don’t keep their promises are people who aren’t taken seriously. When you make a promise to someone – especially someone who works for you - no matter how small you think it might be, it is important to them. If you don’t follow through, you cause disappointment and they begin to doubt your commitment – to them, to the team, to your integrity.
Trust is a fragile thing. It takes a long time to build and can be lost in an instance. If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, try not to make promises you can’t keep.
5. Canceling meetings
A lack of follow-through can affect how your team sees you. If you are constantly requesting meetings only to forget or cancel them last minute, you will frustrate your attendees, especially if they have spent time preparing or have rearranged other commitments to be there.
Time is precious, be conscious of peoples’ time and do your best to stick to a schedule. Of course, unexpected things happen and sometimes you can’t help but cancel, in those cases, give as much notice as possible and explain why you are postponing.
6. Setting deadlines that seem to mean nothing
When you set a deadline, especially one that is going to require extra work or overtime to complete, make sure you explain to your team why it is important. If they understand what they are working towards and why they are more likely to be motivated and strive to meet the target.
If you don’t intend to enforce a deadline, don’t set one in the first place. If you are constantly imposing deadlines that don’t seem to mean anything your team won’t want to make the effort and will disregard your time limits.
7. Only caring about the numbers
As a leader, it is your responsibility to care for and guide your team members and manage the financial results of your division or sector. While it might feel like your performance is judged solely on numerical results, it is company culture that will drive those results in the long term.
It is crucial to care about your team members, monitor their health and well-being, understand their motivations and their aspirations. Get to know each of your employees, take the time to ask about their families and their work-life balance. It will be difficult for your team to respect you as a leader if they don’t feel cared about and respected back. Numbers come and go, but your company culture should stay strong and stable through it all.
8. Late performance reviews
Nothing says “I don’t care” like a performance review that’s been rescheduled three times. It gives the impression that you are not taking the assessment seriously and therefore not taking the development of your team seriously. If you are going to implement performance reviews, do so consistently, taking the time to appraise each team member as an individual.
9. Inconsistent messaging
It is important to give clear, consistent messaging to your team members. This applies across the board. You should aim for consistency in your advocacy, policies, goals, mission, and in your words and actions. If you are going to implement a rule, enforce it. Going to allow flexible work times, don’t then demand they spend a full week in the office. If you ask your team to drive results in one area, don’t change your mind and flip-flop to another area. Consistency in your actions is vital to show your team they can rely on you as a leader and that you are true to your word.
Leaders who develop a reputation for breaking promises and failing to fulfill their commitments undermine their effectiveness. Remember, the “little” things add up, if you want to be taken seriously as a leader your actions are as important as your words.