Late nights. Hard deadlines. Stressful weekends. Negative reinforcement. These are all red flags that toxic leadership is at play; however, in many professionals’ instances, it’s not from their direct supervisor or boss—but themselves. Even the best leaders can be the worst self-leaders. Though you may be a positive, caring boss to your employees, are you a taskmaster-type boss with yourself?
Handling criticism is just one aspect of growing up in this world. Learning how to have thick skin and let negativity roll off is a main driver of personal satisfaction in life. But, what if the criticism is coming from within? Everyone has heard the age old statement “I’m my own worst critic.” Usually, this is spoken with tongue-in-cheek and simply means that the person is a perfectionist with what they can control. In fact, constructive criticism is one of the best ways to cultivate personal growth. But negative criticism is vastly more apparent. Criticism brings a short-term solution to an existing problem. However, negative reinforcement can lead to long-term resentment. Over criticizing leads to stressful conditions in the work place, which in turn, can produce subpar performance. This is why good leaders try to use employee mistakes and issues as learning opportunities. But when it comes to the inner monologue, negativity can still run rampant, causing unneeded stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. And of those who struggle with stress, they cited the number one cause as job pressure. Curb high stress and negativity by focusing on the long-term solution—positive, constructive criticism. Others are looking to you for guidance. Cut yourself some slack.
While 76% of bosses are seen as supportive of their employees using vacation days, workers are leaving unused vacation days on the table, according to a study by Expedia and Harris Poll. Though, in the survey, employees used reasons like they had to “cancel or postpone due to work” or want to “accumulate vacation days for future use,” management understands the benefits of getting away—and they encourage it. Vacations and days off help keep your workforce from getting burned out. But are you encouraging yourself to take much-needed days off? As management, it is imperative to lead by example. And though you may feel working nights and weekends and skipping vacation days is needed and shows your dedication, overwork can discourage your team from taking leave, and in turn, cause you to become disillusioned and even disengaged in your job. Taking a break from the daily grind brings rejuvenation, inspiration, and much needed rest. Treat yourself.
After you overcome negativity in your inner monologue, it’s important to build toward future success. The greatest leaders understand the importance of developing their employees. In fact, it could be the difference between a disgruntled, actively disengaged worker and a highly motivated, top performing asset. But if you’re being hard on yourself, view yourself the same way you do your team—as an asset. Motivational speaker and author of How to Master the Art of Selling Tom Hopkins once said, “You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort, and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.” Just like you would your employees, focus on your strengths and how to build them up. When you delegate certain tasks to your team, but fail to get them the necessary tools, expectations, and guidance, you’re setting them up for failure. Yet, some leaders do this to themselves every day. Set yourself up for success by treating yourself like you would your hardworking team.
It may be near impossible to cut out all negativity and truly focus on positive thoughts when it comes to you and your achievements. In fact, a little bit of personal critiquing can be a healthy way to perfect and hone your skills. Next time you get on to yourself for missing a deadline or not meeting a personally set quota, cut yourself a little slack. Your employees are better off with a stress-free, understanding boss.
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