5 Management Rules Successful Women Business Leaders Ignore

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5 Management Rules Successful Women Business Leaders Ignore

Women leaders are often successful because they reject traditional management rules. This article discusses five conventional leadership guidelines you need to ignore. I reached these conclusions after decades of leadership experiences, from corporate management positions to serving as an executive director of a national nonprofit agency. I’ve also coached hundreds of women leaders and emerging leaders in all types of businesses, from corporate executives and family businesses to start-ups and nonprofits. My Women’s Leadership Coaching clients are more successful because they’ve gained freedom from destructive management myths, including those exposed in this article.

Management Myth #1: Withhold Unfavorable Information About the Business from Your Employees

Many start-ups fail and many corporate leaders lose their positions because they freely promote the spread of favorable information with their employees but fail to share negative news about the business. Even when the old advice to withhold information was possible before the digital age of transparency, suppressing key facts delayed creative problem-solving, while decreasing productivity and motivation.

Examples of “mushroom management” (keep your employees in the dark) that employees most often object to include withholding facts about an upcoming merger or acquisition, gender and other salary discrimination, company performance data, legal disputes, and the purpose of an employee’s work or how it will be used. The management strategy of withholding unfavorable information is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Today’s employees resist manipulation and are aware they can search for facts, even in dark places. Truth will eventually emerge in the light of The Information Age.

Even though many leaders sometimes fear being vulnerable and transparent with their teams, leaders who honestly and thoughtfully share both good and bad information gain increased trust, commitment, engagement and buy-in. Your team members will feel like members of a family that is deeply committed to your company’s vision and success. Your team will also become more productive when you make sure they’re fully informed. As discussed in a related article and videos, women leaders are hardwired to build teams that trust them.

Management Myth #2: Always Hire People with the Most Experience in the Skillset You Need

Old-style managers routinely hired people with the most experience. They set goals like, “I only want to interview candidates who have at least 10 years of experience in accounting, customer service, etc. Before today’s more evolved leaders hire a team member, they ask themselves:

  • Is an employee’s ability to know when to change a time-honored technique more important than consistently using an established procedure?
  • Which potential new team member will be the most agile in today’s complicated, ever-changing world?”

A person with the most experience is sometimes blinded by their past patterns. They may be so complacent about following outdated rules and procedures that they lose out when change is critical. For example, during the last two decades, many businesses have realized that Millennials are sometimes most helpful because they grew up with constant change and are early adopters of new technologies.

Another essential question savvy women business leaders ask themselves is, “I know what kind of employee I think I want, but what kind of employee do I really need?” I’ve coached many leaders who came to me with an extensive list of skills and experiences they wanted a potential new hire to possess.

During coaching sessions, they realized that many items on their list were desires but not true needs. For example, one leader wanted to find a candidate with ten years of experience in customer service. After answering several of my coaching questions, she decided her true need was to interview people with some customer service experience, but not ten years or more because she was more concerned about the interviewee’s confidence to adapt to change.

Management Myth #3: Avoid Contradicting Your Boss

This ancient leadership advice can be responsible for ending your leadership career if your boss is traveling down the wrong path and ignoring landmines that are set to explode. Even if your superior has a “My way or the highway” personality, you owe it to yourself and your team to speak up.

People (including your boss) respect other people who know who they are, what they believe in and are courageous enough to stake a position, especially when other people chicken out and try to please the boss. Your team will trust you when you’re authentic and truthful. They’ll doubt your leadership abilities when you’re not.

Several military personnel I’ve coached told me, after reaching a certain level (not boot camp), they were told, “For the good of the entire company, you have a duty to inform your superior when you think they’re off-track.”

A red flag is waving if your boss encourages you to lie on their behalf so you can keep your job or promises to bail you out or promote you if you cover for them. Think about how many times you’ve observed the demise of corporate and government team members who fell for this bait and were then thrown under the bus while the boss kept his job. Beware! Also, take advantage of Women’s Leadership Coaching and gain the assertiveness skills you need.

Management Myth #4: Work with People Who Recognize the Authority Established by the Chain of Command

This old adage emerged when organizations established hierarchies that caused eager employees to struggle to climb a corporate ladder. Do you have enough Traditionalists and Baby Boomers (employees born before 1965, currently over the age of 55) to fill your workforce? If not, it’s time to abandon the guideline to only hire people who recognize positional authority, a term that means employees honor your instructions because they respect your position in the organization

The generation following the Baby Boomers, Generation Xers (born between 1965-1970, currently between 40-54 years old) were more independent (sometimes cynical) and more resistant to a rigid chain of command. As a group, Millennials (Generation Ys, born between 1980-1995) will tell you they have no interest in following an inflexible organizational structure, especially one in which employees are disconnected from management. Since Millennials are now the largest group of employees (over one-third), it’s time to discard the guideline to hire people who respect your authority because you occupy a certain position.

Most Millennials view organizational pyramids and pecking orders with contempt because they value a flat organizational structure. They also reject hierarchical ways of socializing and communicating. They want you to earn their respect and your authority. For example, they don’t merely want to listen to your feedback about their performance. They expect to give you feedback about your performance so you can also improve.

Generation Y knows economic opportunities are abundant. They are aware that, given a chance, they can change most organizations for the better because Millennials have keen technological, adaptability and other skills. Since Millennials will be 40% of the workforce by 2020, please consider permanently deleting a preference to primarily hire people who will follow old-fashioned rules.

Management Myth #5: Avoid Saying Anything Negative to an Employee

Early management books instructed new managers, “Don’t say anything negative to your employees.” This defies common sense. People are smart enough to read your body language, so it can feel crazy-making when a leader only delivers positive feedback, but you know they’re avoiding giving you bad news. Employees feel disrespected when you’re dishonest with them.

Not only do most people question their performance when it’s off-track, employees want to hear ways they can improve so they can gain raises, promotions and have an easier time getting their work done. When a manager restricts themselves to only making positive comments, employees rate the leader “untrustworthy”. Over the years, many of my coaching clients have complained, “I can’t trust our team leader. She’s not being authentic. She’s not confident enough to begin a conversation she thinks might be difficult so she only says positive things to me. I’d much rather her be totally honest so I’ll know how to improve. Her lack of courage is holding me back.”

Instead of struggling to avoid a conflict, losing your employee’s trust and placing your direct report at a disadvantage, develop leadership coaching skills that will empower you to thoughtfully deliver honest feedback that will help your employees improve. Remember, your goal as a leader is not to be liked. It is to empower your team members to reach their own level of peak performance. Women’s Leadership Coaching will equip you with the employee coaching skills and assertiveness training you need, so you can confidently and successfully build a winning team.

Learning how to discuss poor performance and also how to coach team members to improve are core leadership skills every executive must learn. Achieving these skills produces win-win results because enhancing employee successes directly elevates your own ability to gain positive recognition and promotions.

Enjoy Greater Success by Ignoring Old-Fashioned Management Rules

This article exposed why the following five traditional management guidelines are myths that successful women executives ignore.

  1. Withhold unfavorable information about the business from your employees
  2. Always hire people with the most experience in the skillset you need
  3. Don’t contradict your boss
  4. Work with people who respect the authority established by the chain of command
  5. Avoid saying anything negative to an employee

Today’s work world is increasingly evolving toward greater honesty, transparency and flat organizational structures. Women executives are hardwired to lead in a beautiful new world of management excellence. Female leaders are also acutely aware that their decisions must constantly consider the next inevitable change in policies and procedures instead of clinging to traditional hiring or other practices. Rather than hiding behind so-called authority based on our position in a chain of command, we are successful because we earn the trust and respect of our team members. We sincerely care about their wellbeing and we use our influence and skills to empower them to succeed.

Click here to receive the information and tools you need so you can overcome every leadership challenge you face. Our world needs for you to shine your brilliant inner Light as a woman leader. Women’s Leadership Coaching is a proven tool to assist you in doing so. Because the average return on investment (ROI) of the type of leadership coaching I provide is over 500%, if you want to achieve peak performance in your career, sign up now to receive a no-obligation, complimentary 20-minute consultation.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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