Mistakes are natural. You will make them, and you’ll also learn from them. When you overcome mistakes, they become stepping stones on your path to leadership success.
Here are some of the most frequent mistakes made by leaders and managers, as well as how to avoid falling into these common traps.
A leader who monopolizes conversations stifles the creativity and motivation of the team. Engage in dialogues rather than monologues. Be enthusiastic in your discussions, meetings, and calls. When you sound animated, others are excited to share their ideas. Your interactions will become more productive. Honesty is key to good communication. Don’t lie or fabricate information. It’s acceptable to keep certain information confidential for the good of the business but avoid misleading your team. Set an example by being upfront and straightforward in your communications.
Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean you always have to do it that way. Brainstorm new techniques and approaches with your team. Treat your original approach as a starting point and go from there.
The Need to Be Liked
Conflict is almost unavoidable when employees with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experience come together. However, unlike social media, leadership isn’t about how many “likes” you get. Your success is measured by what you and your organization achieve, and that sometimes means making decisions that aren’t popular with your subordinates. Being brusque or rude won’t serve you well but be wary of a need to make everyone happy all the time.
Micromanagement is destructive. It fosters an environment where employees wait for you to make the next move rather than presenting their own ideas and solutions. Highly-skilled staff often leave companies when they feel that their talents and skills are being underutilized. Instead of constantly replacing employees and readjusting workloads, push your team to take initiative and bring their best ideas forward. Allow them to shine.
Letting Stress Affect Decision-Making
Passion is an important leadership trait, but don’t allow your emotions to jeopardize your work. In moments of crisis, don’t act impulsively. Take a moment to re-focus your energy. Analyze the situation and let the facts point the way toward the appropriate solutions.
Picking Up Others’ Slack
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”, but that’s not necessarily the case. To paraphrase another expression, as a leader, the buck stops with you. But that doesn’t mean that you have to take over someone else’s job. If you feel that someone isn’t performing their job properly, get to the root of the problem and correct it. The person may need additional training or coaching, or simply may not be the right person for the job.
Refusing to Ask for Help
Asking for help may appear to be a sign of weakness, but it can propel your projects in directions you never imagined. Leadership is about teamwork. Good leaders know not to rely entirely on themselves, and when to engage their subordinates. The truth is, there’s no shame in asking for help, and if you’re afraid of appearing weak, the alternative is often far worse.
Imitating Instead of Creating
Don’t try to replicate the work or style of great leaders, past or present. They found success precisely because of their unique approach and outlook. You may want to be the next Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, or Elon Musk. While it’s admirable to model yourself after successful people, you should focus on creating your own leadership style.
Failing to Learn from Mistakes
How good a leader can you be if you never acknowledge your missteps? Take the initiative to analyze your performance – including your mistakes – and make any necessary changes. By learning from your mistakes, you will become a more successful leader as you forge ahead.
Leadership is not easy, and we’re all human, so some slipping up on occasion is inevitable. But it’s how you learn from your mistakes and move forward as a better leader and a better person that will define you. Be fearless yet humble, and you’ll inspire others and find success.
Lizel Shabudin | Contributing Writer