Leadership is an ongoing evolution in thought and process, not a mere title or role.

To be a great leader, you have to constantly adjust your ears and stay attuned to your employees, listening carefully to what they say. Thankfully, they always tell you what they think one way or another. If you keep hearing these same comments over and over, you'll need to adjust what you're doing and become a better leader.

1. "I don't ever know what's going on..."

This is where technology can help. If your employees don't know what's going on, it's because they don't have access to information. There's a communication breakdown. Apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are designed to foster better communication; Basecamp exists as a way to make sure everyone knows what they are doing. Don't just throw apps at employees, of course. Model good communication by staying in contact with employees throughout the day and letting them know the details.

2. "I don't know my role..."

If employees don't know their role or what's expected of them at work, it create a sense of chaos and confusion. Yet, identifying a role is more than just putting a name on a business card and calling it good. You have to actively remind the employee and everyone on the team who is doing what and why. This can mean standing up for an employee who is supposed to be completing a given task; it can mean delegating as a way to encourage an employee to excel in their role.

3. "He/she keeps changing his/her mind..."

One sign of poor leadership is when the boss speaks before really knowing all of the details or analyzing the possible outcome for a given decision. If employees keep wondering why you're changing your mind, it's never a good sign--it means they will question your decisions. It also means you might be leading by a hunch or demanding things because you're the boss, not because you have all of the right information.

4. "There's too much emotion involved..."

Anger is the ultimate de-motivating factor on any team. It crushes people. No one likes to work for an angry or emotional boss, and using emotion is a way to create uncertainty and chaos. When employees complain about this problem, it means you still have a chance--they are frustrated and want to vent. (If they stop venting, it's possible they have one foot out the door anyway.) It's better to manage with a clear head.

5. "I'm confused..."

That look of confusion you see at meetings? It's a sign that the projects, roles on a team, and overall direction are not clear enough for employees, and it's your fault. Great leaders bring clarity. They know how to share a vision--not just a blueprint for reaching a sales goal, but a way to envision how the company will succeed over the next few months and even years in vivid detail. They know how to paint a picture of progress.

6. "I don't know what's expected of me..."

Part of the job of a leader is to clearly define expectations. Again, this is more than a title on a door. Great leaders know how to set boundaries. They sit down with employees on a regular basis and help set goals and develop a clear path to success.

7. "I don't know when my tasks are due..."

Lastly, a great leader won't let ambiguity linger for long in the workplace. They will make hard and fast decisions about when tasks are due because that's what employees really need to know. Too often, a bad leader will let confusion reign because it takes time and patience to adjust a project timeline. Employees can't complete a task on time or with a good result if they don't even know what it is or when it's due.

Published on: May 9, 2017