6 Things to Eliminate to Become a Better Leader

Aug 11, 2015, Written by Sue Miley

Become a Better Leader

Leadership means different things to different people, and there are certainly a variety of definitions for each person’s taste.  The one thing, though, that remains the same for every small business owner…you are a leader.

By default, in choosing to run a small business, you have chosen to lead.

For the most part, I learned from those in leadership what not to do.  Although there are many characteristics of a leader you want to develop, many skills to practice, and habits to adopt, there are some very common ones to get rid of in order to become a better leader.

Here are the six I have written about often in the past:

1. Fear

Sometimes fear can paralyze us.  You aren’t sure what to do or where to go.  You are worried you aren’t pleasing God.  And basically, you just feel sick.  This is when fear threatens to cripple us.

Fear is an insidious enemy that threatens our health and relationships.  It is a sign that we are not trusting God and it usually prompts unwise actions or decisions in our life.  As a leader, if we are fearful we tend to lose the confidence of our team and create frustration through the ranks.

Here are a few articles that may help you eradicate fear from your life:

At The Corner of Fear and Change

Fear Blocks Us At Every Crossroad

Courage: Choosing to Act in Spite of Fear

2. Stress

Stress, like fear, comes at a high cost.  It also impacts our health and relationships.  The thing about stress that can be different than fear is that it stays with us more consistently.  Usually fear comes and goes.  Stress can stay present in the form of worry.  I also feel it is a more pervasive insult to God, signifying a more underlying lack of trust in Him.  He tells us in so many places in the bible that He has us, yet, do we believe him?

Stress is also the key word that lands people to my site most often.  Business owners know they are stressed.  There are many ways to attack stress, but the first will always be to go to God and work on your relationship with Him.  The stronger our relationship is with God, the more we trust Him.  I think it is difficult to maintain stress when we don’t have a high level of trust in God.

There are some other things we can do for ourselves too.  As I have mentioned before, I write about stress often.

Here are a few of the posts that may give you some other ideas of how to eliminate stress:

The Biggest Business Stress of All

Planning Your Way Out of Stress

A Simple Plan To Identify Your Stressors

3. Overcommitment

There is nothing more damaging to a team’s view of their leader than the leader not keeping their commitments.  It is tantamount to a parent not keeping a commitment to a child.  It slowly and deliberately erodes our trust in the leader.

The first thing a leader must do is make sure that the commitments they make should have been made in the first place.  I hate it when someone agrees to plans we make and then backs out.  They usually use the excuse that they just have too much to do.

In small businesses, the boss usually doesn’t even give a reason for backing out on a commitment.  They just punt and reschedule, apologize or ignore it.  And usually, the underlying problem is that they are over-committed.  After all, doesn’t every small business owner wear multiple hats in their organization?

To get out of the problem, I would recommend reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  His Quadrant II time management system and the second habit, Put First Things First, address the issue of overcommitment.

If you have a reasonable amount of commitments, it is more likely that you will be able to keep more of them.

Other posts that may help:

If I’m Delegating, Why Do I Still Feel Overwhelmed?

Overwhelmed: The 1st Step to Getting Off The Hamster Wheel

4. Indecision

Indecision could be a result of fear or stress, however, some people are just indecisive.  In small businesses, it usually is created from a lack of appropriate information to make a decision. – Information Makes Decision-Making Easy

But ultimately, you are the leader and the decision is yours.

  • If you do not eliminate indecision you become the bottleneck.  Don’t Become The Bottleneck that Strangles Your Business
  • You can delegate decision-making to your team if you have appropriate policies and procedures in place.
  • Sometimes indecision is a form of procrastination.  As many others have said, sometimes a bad decision is better than no decision.Ultimately, if you want to move your business forward, you have to eliminate indecision from your leadership and your company.  Eliminate Indecision: A 4 Step Process

5. Resistance

Resistance is sort of a counseling term.  In Layman’s terms, it is when we are resistant to making changes that will improve our situation.  The thing about resistance is that many times we don’t even realize it.

For example, if someone comes to me for coaching to get their business unstuck, you wouldn’t think they would be resistant to the suggestions that are made.  But, it happens all of the time.

I am not talking about a specific solution.  It could be something like suggesting we look at roles and responsibilities of team members.  I might get a response like, “It isn’t my team, they have been with me since the beginning.  They all do a great job.”  I am just suggesting that we look at the team’s roles, not that we fire anyone.

Or sometimes when I ask questions about different areas of the business, I get “we are doing that“, “we are doing that“, and “we are already doing that“…really?  A couple of months down the line, when the client is more comfortable, or maybe just having a recent experience where “what they are already doing” isn’t working, they open up.

Strong leaders are always open to making positive changes.  If you hear yourself always hesitating to make changes, look inside and see if resistance may be playing a part.

Here are a couple of posts on resistance:

This Is Resistance (In Life and Business)

5 Ways to Beat Resistance and Boost Your Influence

6. Control

I saved control for last, probably because it is the one I struggle with the most.  I try to maintain control.  I laugh at this because I thought I had learned the lesson that only God is in control.

Unfortunately, I think that one of the reasons many entrepreneurs start their own business is because they want control.  We don’t want to work for someone else who is going to control us.

However, as a Christian in business we all understand that God is really in control and that He wants us to totally depend on Him. – Who Are We Fighting For Control?

The most important lessons I have learned about control are twofold:

  • God is the only one who is really in control.  All of the effort we put in trying to over-control the outcomes, causes us and the people in our lives anxiety and stress.  And our way is not the best way!
  • We have to do our part still.  Although God is the one in control, we have to show we are ready to receive His guidance by still trying.  We can’t just sit back and say God is in control.  If He wants to do something about this situation He will.  We need to do our part by stepping forward, yet also keep our heart open to His leading.  He knows if our heart is open to Him!

Here are a couple of other articles on control:

5 Reasons You Won’t Let Go of Control

A Tiny Reminder of Who Is Really In Control

I don’t know if any of these areas resonate with you more than another.  As I mentioned above, I have a control issue that gets me the most.  Sometimes I don’t even realize I am kicking into control-mode.

I do know from talking to many employees that all of these significantly impact our leadership.  They make us hard to follow.  They create many of these same issues in our team.  And ultimately, we may be leading, but we may not like where we end up.

One last suggestion: try to tackle eliminating only one of these at a time

I learned in graduate school for counseling, that we cannot change a lot about ourselves at the same time.

Which one are you going to start on?

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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