10 Leadership Mistakes in Business

Successful leaders never make mistakes. This is a common misconception about leadership. In fact, the opposite is true: even the most successful leaders slip up from time to time, especially at the beginning of their career. Their mistakes, however, are valuable business lessons. Despite being a valuable experience, mistakes should be avoided and used as a point of reference in certain situations in the workplace. In particular, leaders should avoid the following mistakes:

Mistake 1: Avoiding conflict. New leaders need to learn how to handle disagreements or issues. This task, however, is often challenging. “Managers often veer away from confrontation and try to avoid it at all costs,” says Mark Feldman, Vice President of Marketing at Stynt, an on-demand healthcare staffing platform. In his opinion, if there is an issue, it is better to address it right away.

Mistake 2: Being too friendly. Many leaders try to befriend their subordinates to seem likable or approachable. This, however, is counterproductive: employees are likely to take advantage of them. As leaders need to make tough and unbiased decisions, having no clear boundaries with their staff complicates decision-making. 

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Mistake 3: Lacking vision. If a company does not have a clear vision, its progress will be challenging. A leader’s role is to set expectations and goals, while holding each team member accountable for their execution. “A lack of vision will result in unfocused projects, improper resources planning, inaccurate metrics for success, and a lack of buy-in from the rest of the organization,” explains Cindy J. Ford, Executive Vice President of Global Strategic Accounts and Alliances at Aptum, a provider of IT solutions.

Mistake 4: Misunderstanding motivation. Many leaders assume that monetary reward is the main motivator of their team. While monetary compensation is important for many, other factors are important as well. For example, people who seek a work-life balance might be motivated by remote work or flexible work hours. Using that information, leaders can better manage work and achieve better results.  

Mistake 5: Not delegating. Some leaders do not delegate tasks because they are afraid that no one else can do the job as well as them. This can easily lead to bottlenecks, stress or even burnout. Despite this, delegation is important as it saves time on focusing on the broader view as well as takes away the pressure off leaders.  

Mistake 6: Poor communication. If leaders fail to communicate clearly and effectively with their employees, they hinder their understanding of work expectations. Consequently, they might fail in completing their tasks as they are unsure which benchmarks they should be aiming at. Employee reviews done once in 6 months are a step in the right direction. What is even better is providing ongoing feedback such as constructive criticism, encouragement or applause whenever needed.

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Mistake 7: Not having a growth mindset. Some leaders become too set in their ideas and, as a result, resist change. Resistance to innovation is, however, a costly mistake. It prevents from seeing business opportunities that have a competitive edge. Leaders with a growth mindset can also successfully overcome challenges and failure by seeing it as an integral part of the learning process.   

Mistake 8: Hiring the wrong people. One of the biggest mistakes leaders could make is hiring too quickly because they urgently need someone. This in turn causes some additional problems, and is likely to lead to another recruitment process a few months later. To avoid this scenario, leaders simply need to take as much time as needed to find a candidate who is hard-working, and has integrity.   

Mistake 9: Not prioritizing well. This mistake especially concerns new leaders, who tend to keep themselves busy and overburden themselves with tasks that they could easily delegate. This could create the illusion of great productivity, but in reality it means that many important tasks are not accomplished. Without setting clear priorities, high activity does not mean high achievement. Whenever leaders see that they are not reaching their goals, they should stop their work and refocus.  

Mistake 10: Micromanaging. When leaders clearly communicate what their employees should focus on, and let their teams work on their own terms, employees feel more self-directed and valued. Leaders need to define the goals and outcomes and trust their teams to figure out how to reach them. Of course, they need to have checkpoints in place to measure progress, but micromanaging will only make employees unappreciated and undervalued.

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References:  forbes.com | Sammi Caramela, businessnewsdaily.com | mindtools.com | growthforce.com | Ken Coleman, ramseysolutions.com | Sam Reese, vistage.com