Overcoming 5 Common Leadership Mistakes

 In Culture, Leadership

Leadership isn’t easy and doesn’t come upon naturally for many. To be a good leader requires a high level of self-awareness, ongoing reflection, self-evaluation, and feedback to ensure you’re serving your team and growing yourself every day. And if you’re a bad boss, you’ll constantly be looking for new employees. That’s because the old adage holds true: Employees leave managers, not companies.

#1 Not Giving Feedback

First and foremost the biggest mistake leaders make is failing to give feedback. When a leader fails to provide timely feedback to their direct reports, they are robbing them of the opportunity to grow and improve their performance. To overcome this mistake, a leader needs to learn an effective feedback model such as STAR or SBI (Situation, Behavior, Impact) and provide it on a regular basis.

#2 Not Setting Expectations and Goals

Second, failing to set expectations and set goals. When a leader does not set expectations, their direct reports often limp through their day with no clear direction. Direct reports want to be productive, they want to know their work has meaning and is contributing to a bigger picture. Without expectations or goals, they are not able to prioritize the workload. A leader can avoid this mistake by learning how to set goals and intentionally help their direct reports see how their work aligns with the broader work of the organization.

#3 Not Modeling the Way

Third, a leader can fall into the mistake trap of not modeling the way. A leader must have the utmost and highest level of integrity and model the way for their team. If you leave early during the workday or speak off-hand about a colleague, it will likely be repeated by your direct reports. To avoid this a leader needs to clarify their values and be hyper-aware of their behavior and hold themselves to the same or higher standards that you would direct reports.

#4 Not Delegating

Forth, leaders don’t trust their direct reports so they fail to delegate. Leaders feel too often like they are the only ones who can complete a task or it won’t turn out the way they want it. This behavior creates unnecessary, unproductive bottlenecks, adding to their own stress. To avoid this behavior, a leader needs to first find the right candidate to delegate to considering their ability, availability, motivation, and development needs. Once the right person is found, they need to actually plan, considering the scope of the delegation, the level of authority, how much support is needed, and how they will follow-up.

#5 Not Being A Leader

Fifth, being a friend and not a leader. This is a common mistake especially among young and first time leaders. Most leaders want to be seen as friendly and approachable, and usually direct reports are more engaged when the leader gets along with them. There are going to be times, however, when a leader needs to make a tough call, whether it’s about people, budget, promotions, etc, being too friendly can cloud that relationship and some make take advantage of it. To avoid this, doesn’t mean a leader shouldn’t socialize, but a leader will need to draw a line and find a balance between being a friend and being the leader.

So, let me ask you:

Which mistake did you learn the most from? There are many mistakes to be made, which one would you add to the list?

What mistakes is your leader making today that needs to be addressed?

We welcome (and read) all comments, and would love to hear about your experience.

Not ready to share openly? That’s okay. Contact us directly at info@whereleadershipbegins.com.

Also, if you’re a new leader, either to the organization or promoted from an individual contributor role, we recommend you download our ebook here.

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