Bad Leadership Advice That Successful Women Business Leaders Ignore
As a female business leader or business owner, have you been told to always focus on the bottom line? Advised to protect the workplace from negative emotions and conflict because they’re toxic to productivity? Hire only positive people because pessimists can destroy employee morale and damage teamwork?
Women leaders are often successful because they reject traditional management rules like these. This article discusses why you need to ignore these three conventional leadership guidelines so you can create employee trust and build winning teams.
Management Myth #1: Always Stay Focused on the Bottom Line
Although shareholders of many publicly-held companies increasingly demand a focus on profits and share buybacks, consumers more often reward companies that balance a bottom-line focus with an emphasis on ethics and The Greater Good, including community accountability and sustainability.
Corporate boards and leaders at all levels are recognizing that the majority of employees are disengaged, particularly when management seems to only care about the bottom line. On the other hand, employees become more energetic, passionate and productive when a company sincerely cares about employee wellbeing, skills enhancement and sustainability of the community and environment.
Whether employees are disengaged or enthusiastic is especially relevant for executives who lead and coach younger workers. Savvy leaders understand that Millennial employees (Generation Y) are over one-third of the workforce. This generation, born between 1980–1995, will comprise 40% of the labor force by 2020. Millennials become disengaged when they think they’re just working to earn a paycheck or corporate leaders are enmeshed in power struggles.
When Gen Ys sense that leaders and the company sincerely care about the Greater Good, they become highly engaged because Millennials, as a group, are purpose-driven. This is also true for members of Generation Z, people born between 1996 – 2010, a rapidly emerging segment of the workforce. The majority of members of both generations crave meaningful work much more than status, pay, promotions or perks. Excellent managers recognize that both groups are also key consumers and influence the opinions of other people in the community.
Smart leaders know younger generations will be highly engaged and productive, as long as executives are respectful, transparent, provide them many choices during their work day and walk their talk about living a purpose-driven life that benefits other people, not just themselves. This leadership style will also help retain younger generations as employees at a time when a majority of leaders are forced to constantly recruit new members of Generation Y because turnover rates are high and more younger workers tend to be anxious or stressed.
The True Bottom Line is That “Corporate Soul” Creates Profits
Even if you only reflect on employee resignations and the costs of constantly enlisting and on-boarding new personnel, it’s clear that a corporation’s bottom line is related to much more than metrics. How do old paradigm companies transform into consciously-led corporations that radiate “Corporate Soul?”
Leadership styles like agile leadership and TEAL are evolutionary management styles that emerged in response to employee disengagement and leaders’ dissatisfaction with power struggles and misdirected resources. The profits of many companies that focus on The Greater Good, passion and purpose generally outpace the profits of companies that still practice the old paradigm of management. New paradigm companies are also more agile, which enables them to become trail blazers.
To summarize, transparent companies that focus on The Greater Good reward autonomy, peer structures, self-management and intelligent risk-taking. They are more productive and profitable because they respond more swiftly to the constant challenges posed by today’s chaotic world. Heart-centered women leaders have always understood that Corporate Soul is the key to developing employee trust, building winning teams and thriving in the future.
Management Myth #2: Protect the Workplace from Negative Emotions Because They’re Toxic to Productivity
Dissatisfied employees are often told, “Don’t complain. Look for the bright side of a situation.” Admonishing disgruntled employees to wear a happy face usually creates a greater impairment to work flow than allowing a more natural balance of negative and positive emotions during the work day.
Humans are hardwired to experience both positive and negative emotions. Since these opposite feelings sit side by side in our brains, when we deny or repress what we’ve been taught are unacceptable feelings, like anger, fear and self-doubt, we stifle our ability to feel and express the emotions we crave, including joy, confidence and pride about overcoming a challenge.
It backfires when we try to ignore or repress negative emotions like anger and fear in any business relationship, because buried feelings never die. Smart business leaders assume diamonds (better ways of working together) are resting peacefully underneath every jagged lump of coal (a negative emotion). Therefore, they accept and then thoughtfully and carefully explore conflicts, anger, fear, etc. with the curiosity of a beginner’s mind. Even when they’re upset, they hold the intention to refrain from judging other people harshly.
Excellent Executives Encourage Employees to Constructively Express, Instead of Repress, Negative Emotions
Smart managers understand the value of expressing emotions in safe and constructive ways instead of allowing them to fester until an employee surprises management, team members or customers with an uncontrollable emotional outburst. Leaders also prefer this approach because they know neither managers nor their teams can resolve problems if people don’t openly discuss their frustrations in an adult manner. Negative emotions, when handled correctly, actually connect people in healthy ways, which is important because humans crave authentic connections, including at work.
Of course, every workplace requires boundaries regarding what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. For example, loud angry outbursts, bullying and violence are not acceptable. At the same time, savvy leaders know employees perform better when they are authentic, which includes safely and constructively expressing emotions. That’s one reason many successful leaders encourage team members to calmly voice their frustrations before sharing their ideas for resolving problems.
Some progressive companies that recognize what a pressure cooker some jobs create provide areas where employees can do tai chi, aikido, qi gong, yoga, meditate or work out physically when they’re frustrated. This helps employees release tension while re-oxygenating their brains and bodies. They come back to their work stations thinking more clearly, with greater motivation to complete their work day. Some savvy leaders offer emotional intelligence and mindfulness tools and programs.
Management Myth #3: Pessimists Will Harm Productivity and Damage Staff Morale. Only Hire Optimists!
Contrary to traditional management training, “Pessimists are toxic! Only hire positive people!”, skeptics and naysayers do not necessarily deplete employee morale or damage productivity. New research shows that employees wandering around the workplace sounding like Eeyore in “Winnie the Pooh” can actually serve a positive purpose. As long as pessimistic people are located in the right job, they save companies money by serving as trouble-shooters who prevent problems.
We cannot require someone to have a positive attitude, but we can help an employee with pessimistic behavior recognize any cognitive distortions (faulty beliefs) and transform them into productive beliefs. There are many proven ways to effectively do this. One of the first ways is to observe how we react and respond emotionally to someone who doesn’t reflect our enthusiasm or point of view back to us.
During the process, we become aware that most skeptics are responsible, intelligent and hardworking. Many of their anxieties about what might go wrong can be calmed when a compassionate leader listens attentively and addresses their concerns. Sometimes our own outlook is off-track. In other situations, we may need to help an anxious employee break a job into small parts so the skeptic is no longer stressed about how they’ll accomplish their work. A previous article explored how the hardwiring of women helps them reduce pessimism in the workplace.
Discover the Hidden Gifts That Pessimists Provide Leaders and Organizations
When I served as Executive Director of a national nonprofit organization, I purposely appointed at least one skeptic (pessimist or naysayer) to every Board of Directors I appointed. Although I never tried to change their personality, since I respected them and their opinions, they changed how they presented their points of view.
It was my responsibility to practice emotional intelligence instead of allowing myself to become frustrated or defensive when a pessimistic Board member didn’t share my opinion. I had to hold the intention to observe my emotions without allowing my feelings to govern how I viewed someone whom I could have been perceived as an opponent.
I learned to approach the situation with the curiosity of a person who had no agenda. This allowed me to avoid a fight-or-flight response, which would have caused me to over-react to a skeptic’s negative response to my ideas. When this process was difficult, I reminded myself to re-engage in active listening. Through a series of trial and error learning opportunities, I discovered how to breathe deeply, disengage from my prideful ego and practice self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. These are all keys to emotional intelligence that helped me understand a skeptical person’s point of view.
Once I understood the constructive goal of the person with pessimistic behavior, I could appreciate their ability to help me avoid a potential future failure. Over time, I became truly grateful to be challenged in a Board meeting by a pessimist with a positive intention, as part of our organization’s internal planning process. It was truly better than what could have happened, such as being confronted later during a media interview because I hadn’t listened to a Board member’s concern. What a gift someone who seems like a pessimist or skeptic can be!
Smart Women Business Leaders Win by Ignoring Bad Leadership Advice
We’ve discussed three traditional management guidelines that successful women executives ignore.
- Always stay focused on the bottom line.
- Protect the workplace from negative emotions because they’re toxic to productivity.
- Pessimists will harm productivity and destroy staff morale. Only hire optimists!
Evolutionary management change is a response to an understanding that employees reward companies that balance a bottom-line focus with an emphasis on fairness, ethics and The Greater Good. This includes a clear mission, passion, purpose, community accountability and sustainability. Transparent companies that focus on benefits for everyone concerned are also more productive and profitable because they are more agile in today’s challenged, chaotic world.
Women leaders are especially gifted with hardwiring that empowers us to lead with emotional intelligence, intuition, honesty and a full deck of well-developed business skills. We know Corporate Soul creates profits. We sincerely care about the wellbeing of our employees and we use our influence and skills to empower them to succeed.
Gain Your Own Freedom from Bad Leadership Advice
Decades of leadership experiences, from corporate management positions to serving as an executive director of a national nonprofit agency, prepared me to coach hundreds of women business leaders, emerging leaders and business owners like you for over 20 years. My Women’s Leadership Coaching clients are more confident and successful because they’ve gained freedom from destructive management myths, including those exposed in this article.
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.