It’s not always easy or natural to be a great leader. While some people may have natural tendencies towards being a leader, it certainly doesn’t mean that they have what it takes to be a great leader.
In fact, there are a countless number of people who are put into positions within companies who don’t know how to lead and make some common mistakes that many leaders make. These mistakes prevent leaders from becoming great leaders and are some of the factors holding many companies back.
Here is a look at the Top 7 mistakes that leaders make and how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Constant Negative Feedback. It’s a bad habit among many people to constantly speak up and pick on people for their mistakes and weaknesses. It’s one thing to provide people negative feedback when it is provided as a form of constructive criticism, but if all you ever do is criticize and give negative feedback, you’re causing more damage than good to members of your team. You are probably bringing morale down and you may even be creating animosity and resentment by team members towards you for always being so negative and hard on them. Make sure that you balance your negative feedback with equal (or greater) enthusiasm for a job well done.
Mistake #2: Lack of Accountability. This mistake goes hand-in-hand with Mistake #1. Perhaps you can’t provide positive feedback to your team members simply because you have no means of holding team members accountable? Are your team members only noticeable to you when they make a mistake or something that they did is brought to your attention? As a leader, it’s your job to know what is going on with all of your team members. You don’t necessarily have to micromanage them (and, if anything, micromanaging not only creates inefficiencies but may also backfire with engaging your employees). Just be more aware of what is going on to not only help hold your team members accountable, but using them to hold yourself accountable to getting done what you set out to do.
Mistake #3: Demanding Respect Rather than Earning It. This is a very common mistake among managers. They feel that being named or put into a position of power immediately qualifies them and demands a form of respect from team members. Of course, as a superior in terms of corporate hierarchy, your position demands respect. But, the concept of demanding team members to respect you simply because of your position is not good enough. If you lead by example, follow through with what you say you will do, treat others with respect, you will effectively not only have the respect that you deserve as a leader, but you will have earned the respect of others you lead just because of your leadership style.
Mistake #4: Lack of Trust. This is a major mistake made by many leaders and, in fact, it actually takes away power from individuals that make this mistake. Too often, leaders do not trust their team members to do a particular task. Instead of delegating tasks to others and empowering them to take ownership of those tasks and their completion and outcome, some members hoard tasks and end up trying to do everything on their own and then bring in team members when absolutely necessary or for lower-level, mundane tasks that they don’t want to do. This lack of trust will certainly hold back most organizations from moving ahead, but it also creates a lot of resentment and conflict between team members and leaders. It makes team members feel that they are not needed and are incapable of helping when the leader does not entrust them to be involved. Get others involved and start trusting others to take care of tasks that you (previously) felt only you could do. It doesn’t have to be “your way or the highway” and if there’s a certain way that something needs to be done, train your team members and move onto bigger and better things.
Mistake #5: Not Making Enough Time. Managers are very busy. There is no question about it. According to a study conducted by Priority Management Systems, the average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes. And while that may be true, a common mistake that leaders make is not making enough time for their team members. This could be finding time to touch bases with them, to give them positive feedback (or constructive criticism, if necessary), to engage them, to ask them for their input and feedback, and to actually lead. Make time for your team, whether that’s in the form of daily, weekly or even monthly meetings to touch bases and check in with your team members. Whatever makes sense for your organization and what is needed by your team members. Showing your team members that you are committed to them and their success, along with your team’s success and thus the organization’s success is a great way to already be on the road to becoming a great leader.
Mistake #6: Being Too Friendly. A lot of leaders try to be their team members “friends” and while it’s not to say that you don’t have to be nice or even interact on a personal level with your team members, as a manager, there is such a thing as being “too friendly”. It complicates matters when you’re put into positions of having to discipline or intervene between other team members. It can create questions about nepotism in the workplace that can easily be avoided if you maintain a relatively friendly demeanor across the board, but also create boundaries in the workplace that clearly define your role as leader with your team.
Mistake #7: No Engagement. And last, but not least, one of the major mistakes leaders today are making is a lack of engagement. This goes with Mistake #4. Simply not empowering your team members to think for themselves, to seek out solutions to problems, to provide input and feedback and to feel like they are a valuable contributor to the organization. Engage your employees by proactively seeking out their input, asking them questions to get them to think, make them feel like their opinions matter and show them that you’re not just looking out for your best interest, but everyone’s best interest at heart.
We’re all human – – whether you’re the one leading the team or whether you’re part of the team. We all make mistakes, but recognizing that you’re making one of these fundamental mistakes that so many leaders are making is the first step. Then, finding ways to do something about it is the next.
There’s a saying from a Chinese philosopher named Wang Yangming that goes, “To know and not to do is not to know.” If you know that you’re making even just one of these mistakes, it would be to not only your benefit, but to the benefit of other team members you lead and your organization for you to find some training to help you manage and work through some of these leadership habits that you have. To learn more about how you can build up your leadership skills, check out Dale Carnegie of Edmonton’s Leadership Training for Managers Course.
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