Failure Lesson Three: You Communicate like Charlie Brown’s Teacher

If you’ve ever seen a Charlie Brown cartoon, you’ve probably seen this schoolroom scene – Charlie Brown and his friends are in the classroom and Miss Othmar addresses the class.  However, in the comic strip’s history, she’s the teacher that has never been seen only heard by the audience.  In fact, we’ve only heard “wah, wah, wah” from the front of the classroom.

This week’s Leadership Failure lesson focuses on communication blunders.   And while your team hears more than “wah wah wah” from you (hopefully), falling prey to these three traps will prevent your success as a leader, as well as any real success for your team.

#1 You never hear bad news.
Let’s face it.  In the real world, customers sometimes complain, we sometimes drop the ball, and sometimes there is bad news to report.  While we certainly want (and need) to celebrate the good news in our business, when was the last time someone on your team told you bad news? If you are never hearing these messages, it may be an indication of your communication skills.  Examine why no one tells you they messed up.  Do you blow up? Do you immediately cast blame? Is there a reason your team doesn’t feel “safe” to approach you?

#2 Your team comes to you for EVERYTHING.
Every leader must encourage, challenge and develop the team – both individually and a group.  While it is important to teach and develop your employees, there is also a delicate balance to maintain. If your team comes to you for everything (decisions, research, conflict resolution), it is an indication that they are too dependent on you. Are you teaching and developing these skills with them? That means there will be times you don’t provide the answer and employees are forced to explore the answer (and they may mess up!) along the way.

#3 Everyone is doing a “good job”
Everyone likes to hear “atta boy” every now and then.  In fact, praise is an innate human need. But on the job, employees need more than a generic pat on the back.  While those words sound positive (and that is probably also your intent), it doesn’t tell him/her what to keep doing in the future.  Generally, the team may be performing well but they need specific positive (as well as constructive) feedback along the way to ensure real, measurable results are obtained. It means as the leader, we have to be both specific in our expectations and feedback with each player on the team.

Communication will make or break every leader. Think about your last seven days on the job. Have you fallen into any of these traps? If so, take advantage of this reminder and climb out of that trap!

Next week will conclude our Leadership Failure series.  If you have missed an article, click here to read about three sure-fire ways to lose your followers.  You can read Lesson Two here, it’s all about easy ways to lose your credibility.

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