5 Obstacles Keeping You from Being an Effective Leader

Common problems that can hinder you from being someone who inspires and motivates, and how to overcome them.

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By Brian Buffini

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Exceptional leadership creates an exceptional business — motivates a team to move in a focused and coordinated way to reach a common goal. Doing this effectively, however requires decisiveness, purpose and foresight. It's a true challenge to lead in a way that promotes admiration and respect.

Presenting a handful of dynamics that might be getting in your way.

1. Inspiration deficit

A leader is responsible for keeping a team motivated, but helping people stay upbeat and enthusiastic in pursuit of a goal can be difficult. To truly inspire others, it's not enough to simply motivate: you must also be able to empathize and connect.

I've found that the greatest inspiration you can give is to have a clear purpose, communicate it clearly to a team, then set intentional goals for achieving it. When they fully understand the big picture and watch as you pursue it with passion and focus, they are far more likely to get on board. People aren't just concerned with economic reward; when they know what the mission is and how it serves others, they will be inspired and motivated to achieve.

2. Lack of team unity

Every organized group of employees is made up of individuals with their own areas of strength, ability and interest. This inevitably means that the occasional feelings of disharmony and discord will pop up. When a team doesn't have a clear and well-defined singular vision or goal, these conflicts arise more easily, meaning that projects can be derailed and otherwise long-term damage to morale and trust might happen.

Encouraging collaboration, team strategizing and training is a powerful way to help bond and unify. Consider having an offsite or attending a conference: Both provide great opportunities for employees to connect and learn in new and meaningful ways. Events like these will show that you're committed to their success and continued growth, and they will feel reinvigorated and inspired to reach their full potential together.

Related: 3 Ways to Inspire Your Team in the New Year

3. Not knowing when or how to delegate

As a leader, it can be tempting to take on too much or try to control every small detail. This tactic is always counterproductive: Not only do you run the risk of burning out, you also rob a team of the opportunity to learn, grow and take responsibility for their actions.

Instead, take stock of to-do lists and determine what you can delegate — any tasks you regularly do despite knowing an employee is better equipped at tackling them. Then further consider whether assigning such projects to employees could help boost their careers, or be teachable moments. Delegating shows that you value a team, while providing you the energy to focus on more strategic projects.

It's crucial to remember that if the person you're delegating to needs specific training, resources or other guidance, part of your role as a leader to provide that, as well as to exercise patience. (Think back to some of the struggles you've faced when completing a task for the first time.)

Related: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs on Why Delegating Effectively Is Difficult But Necessary

4. Poor communication

It likely goes without saying that communication is key to success, but it must be reciprocal, with dialogue that flows both ways. A leader can't simply issue directives and expect people to obey; team members must feel that they can express themselves and that any concerns will be listened to and addressed.

If staff members feel lost and in the dark, shared goals will never be reached. As a leader, you must illuminate the path to success. So, cast an encouraging vision…clearly express where you're going, how you're going to get there and what you want them to contribute. Make it clear that you expect accountability, but also invite feedback and other input.

5. Negative work culture

For a team to thrive, company culture must be vibrant and growth focused. If that culture is poor, the right talent will not feel inclined to work there and will eventually leave for greener pastures. If you want a business to have an environment characterized by growth and development, you must lead by example: Demonstrate positive habits and keep a good attitude — encourage a collective spirit of growth. It's also important to acknowledge and celebrate team successes. Consider hosting an occasional lunch or offering gift cards or handwritten notes to acknowledge "wins."

Related: Why Writing a Thank-You Note Should Be as Automatic as Brushing Your Teeth

Brian Buffini

Founder and Chairman of Buffini & Company

Brian Buffini is the founder and chairman of Buffini & Company, the largest training and coaching company in North America. Based in Carlsbad, California, Buffini & Company has trained more than 3 million business professionals in 41 countries and has coached more than 25,000 business people.

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