Leadership Bullcrap: 5 Theories

Best Practices, engagement, Leadership, Maren Hogan

[dropcap]As [/dropcap]Red Branch Media grows, it’s been really difficult for me to try to grow myself as a leader, manager and strategist. But learning ain’t easy. Case in point: I’ve been clicking on every leadership article I can possibly find and like any other category, when it comes to advice, there are more conflicting theories and craptastic ideas than you can count.

Here are just a few of the articles that have made my BS Detector go off in the past week:

1) Micromanagers are always wrong. This is a lie. In some cases, micromanaging is an excellent practice. For example, when onboarding or training a very young staff, you have to micromanage to instill an attention to detail. Many people don’t learn it at college, since college is supposed to teach you about content and how to think. While a great leader can’t and shouldn’t manage all the details all the time, there is a time and a place for steering the team in a very exact way toward a very specific result. Especially in marketing and especially when creating a new process from scratch.

2) Hug your employees. Now this was in a real-life email that I got. When I asked the folks around here if they would feel better about me as a leader (admittedly biased sample) if I hugged them, they responded with a resounding “Touch me and die lady!” Hugging your direct reports is not only kinda weird, it could get you in legal hot water. Also, I’m not your mom.

3) Be constantly pushing your employees. This one is mostly truth-y. There are employees who want to be pushed and challenged and stretched beyond their limits on a regular basis. But that is not all employees and that’s not even all GOOD employees. Some people are simply happy being contributors, making widgets and they absolutely nail their skill every time. They don’t want more than that and pushing them toward it will ultimately push them away, not only creating bad juju but losing a skilled member of the team in the process.

4) Leadership opportunities always lead to greater engagement. As I mentioned in #3, not everyone wants to be a leader. There are personality types who never want to manage their peers. When you put people with the wrong personalities for leadership into leadership positions, it can make them incredibly unhappy and disengaged and ruin their productivity to boot! While leadership is a brass ring for some, it’s a hot potato for others.

5) Leaders must focus themselves. This is a half-truth. While it’s true that leaders must be focused, they must also create shared focus with those on their team. This comes in many forms: from shared physical activity (walking meetings for example) to helpful tips to plan their day, leaders need to help the team learn to focus in their own ways (unfortunately there is no “recipe” to training).

What leadership BS have you encountered as you’ve grown? Think one of these is shortsighted? Let me know in the comments!

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