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All leaders have certain tasks, situations, or responsibilities that they hate. While these dislikes vary from person to person, there are a few that seem to be universally disliked by business leaders. While you might not be able to avoid these tasks or responsibilities altogether, there are some things that can make them a little less painful. Here are five things business leaders hate and some tips for dealing with these issues.
Not having control
Generally, business leaders have strong personalities, and they like to be in control. Given that natural inclination, there are few things that most leaders dislike more than not having control over something that impacts their business. Some examples of things like this are regulatory agencies, media coverage, and tax policies.
Unfortunately, there will always be certain policies and occurences that fall outside of a leader’s control. That said, there are ways to limit the number of things that fall into this category. If you’re a leader who likes to have a hand in everything that affects your business, consider ways that you can proactively anticipate and deal with these issues, whether through lobbying, working with labor organizations, proactively planning for taxation changes, or working closely with regulatory actions. Doing so should limit the number of things out of your control and make it a little easier to deal with those that are.
Similarly, most leaders hate being surprised or caught off guard by unexpected developments.
While there are always some unforeseeable events, the reality is that many surprises can be avoided. The best way to do this is to encourage a culture of constant communication, even when it involves getting updates on something you don’t want to hear. The simple act of requesting regular project updates, progress reports, and timely updates on bad news can help to prevent surprises.
In addition to encouraging communication, it’s also helpful to create systems to help your team be proactive about identifying and anticipating issues. For example, having employees that are working to identify potential issues, whether they are with competitors, legal issues, or regulatory agencies, can help proactively address problems and avoid surprises.
There will be times when things go wrong; that’s just a part of running a business. Most leaders recognize this and are adept at dealing with and responding to problems when they arise. I spoke with Nick Sakiewicz, Commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, about resiliency amidst the COVID-19 crisis. While the pandemic has impacted lacrosse as with all other sports, Sakiewicz and the NLL have found ways to stay agile and creative, and, as a result, remain strong during these times of uncertainty. During our conversation, Sakiewicz reflected, “the NLL hasn’t lost anything from a business standpoint; we have been able to grow and expand our sport and that makes us excited for the future.”
Great leaders can deal with setbacks. What they’re not good at dealing with, however, is excuses. When something goes wrong, leaders hate hearing excuses, having blame passed around, or seeing fingers pointed.
To avoid this, work to build a culture where team members take responsibility. The best way to do this is from the top down, making it important that senior leaders publicly take responsibility for any missteps or mistakes. The more you can work to develop a culture where everyone takes responsibility for their actions and the focus is on how to fix issues (as opposed to assigning blame), the fewer excuses you’ll hear from team members.
Seeing a lack of preparation
Leaders are busy and their time is valuable. As a result, most hate to be in a meeting with team members that are not prepared as it’s a waste of their time. To avoid this, work to instill some basic guidelines for employees – even those at more senior levels – to follow before meetings or before presenting ideas. While this might seem overly formal, having some structure in place can help to ensure that all members are adequately prepared for meetings and that no time is wasted.
Having team members change positions when things fail
Everyone’s worked with an individual that, upon seeing a project fail, is quick to say that he or she was against it all along. Few people are more irritated by this behavior than leaders, and it’s particularly grating when senior-level employees do this.
To help avoid this problem, make sure that all relevant team members have an opportunity to share opinions and to have a voice before changes or new projects are implemented. The goal should be to create a culture of genuine discourse where all opinions are heard, with the caveat of unifying when a decision is ultimately made. Allowing and encouraging true discourse should avoid having this issue even if things go wrong.
Being a leader inherently comes with plenty of tasks that many would prefer to avoid. While you can’t eliminate all of these issues, there are things you can do to alleviate some of them. In addition to the above tips, it’s always a good idea to reach out to colleagues in similar positions to discuss strategies to deal with issues that you dread. The more proactive you can be, the less you’ll have to deal with the things you hate most about your job.
Related: 7 Telltale Signs of a Weak Leader