You could be making mistakes right now as a leader that are destroying your effectiveness.
These mistakes can kill productivity, lower morale, and hurt the profitability of your company. They can motivate employees to leave, create a negative culture, and hold back your career.
Knowing these common leadership mistakes can help you avoid them.
In this article, we will explore many of the different types of leadership mistakes that you may be making right now.
Making changes without talking to your team
Whether you are put in a situation just because of a vacancy or because a team needs help, going in and making quick changes is often a bad idea.
If you go in and start making changes without taking the time to talk with your team and look at what’s going on, what’s working and not, you will likely have a lot of pushback. That pushback can make your efforts to change fail.
You may also hurt processes that are already working well because of your impatience to make a change, or you may make a change for the worse.
Blaming instead of taking ownership
Do you blame or do you take responsibility?
Weak leaders blame when mistakes happen or when situations don’t turn out as they desire. It’s always someone’s or something else’s fault.
- They realize that, ultimately, as leaders, they are responsible for all that happens under them.
- They look to make sure the team was trained well, that explanations were clear, and look to see what they could have and could do better to make sure that mistake doesn’t happen again.
- Even in situations outside their control, such as the cost of goods going up, they take responsibility for their choices and actions based on those situations.
When you blame, you lose the ability to make a change, as it’s someone else’s fault. When you take responsibility, that gives you the power to then do something about it and make a change.
Getting stuck in the details (in the weeds)
It can be easy to get stuck in the details.
When you get stuck in the details, you can’t see the bigger picture. When you can’t see the bigger picture, you can’t see how everything ties together, what adjustments might need to be made, and how to implement those adjustments. As a leader, your job is to see the bigger picture and guide your team toward it. If you are stuck in the details, you will have a hard time doing that.
It’s true you may need to get into the details at times – just make sure to step back frequently to look at the bigger picture.
Holding tightly to information (not sharing)
People hold onto information for various reasons. For some, it’s a sense of power or control. Others may not feel it’s important to share. Some may do it to harm others.
However, effective leaders are quick to share information.
- They let their team know what’s going on.
- They don’t try to hide information from their team or use it as a power play.
- They know the better they are at communicating information, the better their people will perform.
- They also know that good communication helps build trust.
Ineffectively communicating with your team
Effective leaders communicate frequently and clearly. They don’t assume that everyone “gets it” the first time. If something is important, they repeat it.
For example, if you are pursuing a goal that’s important, you will repeat that goal and bring it up repeatedly in various ways to keep it in the forefront of everyone’s mind.
You also want to communicate clearly and simply. Don’t make it overly complicated or complex. Make it simple and clear so everyone understands what’s going on and which direction to go without confusion.
Giving no feedback at all (or only giving it rarely)
One of the biggest frustrations of employees is the lack of feedback. People want to know how well they are doing and if they are meeting expectations.
Without feedback, they don’t know. And if they don’t know, that affects their productivity and morale and can cause them to leave the company.
A yearly performance review is not enough. In fact, it is completely unfair and wrong to only give feedback on the yearly review.
Feedback should be frequent and timely (it may vary depending on the employee). If the first time an employee hears of an issue is on the yearly review, that is not okay.
Only giving negative feedback
Ineffective leaders only give negative feedback. They never look for what people are doing right or how to support their people.They are only looking for what they do wrong.
When you create that kind of punitive environment, employees’ morale lowers and productivity will diminish.
You should acknowledge mistakes and help your employees overcome them. However, your focus should be on helping and supporting the employees, not on finding what they are doing wrong.
Not setting clear expectations
As a leader, you should set clear expectations. It’s unfair to judge your employee’s jobs if it’s not clear what they are being judged by.
- Make sure your employees know exactly what is expected of them.
- Assuming they know doesn’t work.
Haven’t set a clear, compelling, unifying vision
Good leaders set a clear vision for their organization or team, and they live that vision. They unify everyone behind that vision.
When you don’t set a clear vision and goal for your company or team, then there isn’t much there to unify them.
People then often begin pursuing their own agendas or what they think is best for the company, and they don’t understand why another person or department doesn’t see their viewpoint.
People may fight for resources, and it can easily become a “we vs. them” mentality vs. an “us” mentality.
One of the most common leadership mistakes is micromanagement. Ineffective leaders micromanage their employees.
- They are constantly watching over their shoulders making sure they do it exactly the way they want it done.
- They may even expect perfection from those doing the tasks they are micromanaging.
Effective leaders set clear expectations and let their employees work.
- They are concerned about the end result, not the methodology used to get there.
- They provide various levels of support and coaching depending on the needs of the employee.
Absolving responsibility when delegating
Delegating is an important part of effective leadership. You should delegate. However, delegation does not equal abdication.
As a leader, you are still responsible for the end result of the task or project. You should set clear expectations for the project and set check-ins (how often depends on the employee) to ensure the project is moving forward effectively.
Also Read: The definitive guide to delegation
Effective leaders deal with conflict. They don’t run from it. They don’t hide. They deal with it.
Ineffective leaders run from conflict. They fear it. They don’t want to deal with it – so they don’t.When you ignore conflict, it grows worse. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
As an effective leader, you should handle conflict well yourself and teach your employees how to handle conflict as well.
Not building relationships with employees
Ineffective leaders think that their position gives them all the authority they need. They don’t build relationships and influence, they just command by position.
When you do this, however, it highly limits your effectiveness as a leader. You may get some things done because of that position, but it will be minuscule compared to leading by influence.
Not giving employees consistent praise and acknowledgment
Everyone (in general) loves to be acknowledged. People want to be recognized for their good work and generally appreciate it when people do so.
As a leader, you should give regular praise that is sincere and specific.
- Don’t wait for a performance review or a problem to arise before giving praise.
- Don’t only give praise as part of the “sandwich” when telling someone that they are doing something wrong.
If you want to be an effective leader, give regular, consistent, and specific praise to your employees.
Being defensive; Not receiving feedback well
Effective leaders are willing to listen to feedback. They want to listen to how their ideas or actions or processes may not be 100% because they want to get better and improve.
Ineffective leaders don’t listen to feedback.
- They don’t want it.
- They often take it personally.
- They get defensive and try to argue.
If you constantly get defensive and reject feedback, people will stop giving you feedback. When that happens, you won’t know if you are doing something ineffective or if things really aren’t rosy because no one is telling you anything (except for what you want to hear).
Be the leader who receives and welcomes feedback.
Avoiding confrontation and dealing with problems
Ineffective leaders avoid conflict and confrontation instead of dealing with the problem. It may be because they are uncomfortable with it, they don’t like the negative feelings that come with it, or they just don’t know how.
The problem is that when you avoid conflict or avoid dealing with an issue, the issue generally gets worse. Others recognize it, and it makes you look weak as a leader.
Also, when you avoid confronting an issue, you are giving implicit confirmation that that behavior is acceptable. By not confronting it, you are saying that you accept it.
Not encouraging disagreement with yourself or others
Appropriate disagreement is healthy and helpful. Disagreement helps you see potential flaws, refine ideas and plans, and make better decisions.
When you don’t allow discussion or varying opinions, you miss out on making better decisions. If people aren’t allowed to speak up or feel uncomfortable doing so, you or your team may make a decision that’s doomed to fail and hurt you and the company, and you won’t have a clue.
Taking too long to make decisions
It’s smart to look at the problem or issue or goal completely before making a decision. Rushing into decisions can be harmful – but so can delaying decisions.
People avoid decisions for various reasons, including:
- They fear being wrong.
- They want to be 100% certain beforehand.
- They want to see what others do first.
- They are stuck in analysis paralysis.
You need to remember that not deciding is also a decision – and sometimes that decision is worse than if you made the “wrong” decision.
You can’t always be 100% certain. You are going to make mistakes sometimes. That’s life.
Ask yourself, “What will it cost to delay this decision?” Sometimes you just must examine the facts and make the best decision you can with the data you have.
Making decisions too fast
At the same time, it’s dangerous to rush into decisions. When you rush into decisions without getting good data, you risk making terrible errors.
Rushing also keeps you from seeing the bigger picture. In day-to-day decisions and problems and details, we can sometimes lose sight of the big picture. We need to make sure we step back and examine it when making decisions.
Again, you need to ask yourself, “What will it cost to delay this decision?” If you have time to look more into it without rushing, and it would likely be beneficial to do so, then do so.
Not getting others’ input when making decisions
As a leader, it is often wise to get other people’s input before making a decision, especially from those whom the decision impacts the most.
Sometimes we can let arrogance or insecurity keep us from asking for input. Arrogance can make us think we are above others as the leader, and so we know best.
When we are insecure, we may avoid gathering input because we don’t want to look bad or ignorant.
That hurts us, though. First, we often don’t know what we don’t know. If we don’t get others’ input, we miss out on what we don’t know – and could make a huge error.
As a leader, it can be easy to be detached from the reality of what is happening on the front line, especially as you go up in position. Without talking to those on the frontline or those directly affected by the issue, you can easily miss what is really happening and make decisions that don’t really help the problem but only frustrate those who have to deal with that decision (and you miss out on potentially great solutions from those who are directly facing the problem).
You also get more buy-in from employees when you truly listen to their input and try to understand the situation from their perspective. Even if you choose differently, they will more likely follow you because you took the time to listen.
Yes, there are times as a leader when you just have to decide but gathering input when you can is often helpful.
Always get everyone’s input before acting
As we just mentioned above, it is important to get other people’s input. However, always getting everyone’s input, especially those who don’t really have anything to do with the decision or result, just wastes time.
- Look to see who is impacted by the decision.
- See what your timeline is and how important the decision is.
- If it is a crisis moment, you may not have time to talk to everyone.
- If someone isn’t impacted, especially if the decision is not super important, there may not be any reason to involve them.
Make sure you are getting input for the right reasons and not because you are insecure about making the decision or want to put the decision on someone else in case it goes wrong.
Giving the company vision, goals, mission, and values lip-service only
Ineffective leaders set goals and give speeches – but they expect others to live out the goal and make it happen, not them.
If you aren’t willing and don’t live out your vision, mission, values, and goals and only give it lip service, don’t expect your employees to live them either.
Solving everyone’s problems for them
Ineffective leaders solve everyone’s problems for them. They overwork themselves, bottleneck decisions, and cause their employees to rely on them instead of their own critical thinking.
Effective leaders want to know about problems, especially ones that can hurt the company, but they don’t solve everyone’s problems for them. They enable their employees to solve their own problems and coach them through them when needed.
Offering no coaching or support
Ineffective leaders don’t support their staff.
- They don’t help them get better or coach them when needed.
- They are likely to be the ones who are looking for what they do wrong, not right, and doing nothing to help them get better.
- Or they think the employees should know everything already and just expects them to do it.
- They don’t try to help or even open doors for their employees to enable them to do their jobs better.
Not helping your people grow
Effective leaders care about their employees and look toward the future.
- They help their employees grow and develop in their careers.
- They offer support and a path of growth.
- They also look to grow the next generation of leaders.
- They know eventually, they will move up or retire and they need to prepare someone to take their place eventually.
- They also know an organization full of great leaders is a much more effective organization.
Not sharing the why of decisions or the team’s work
Good leaders share not just a decision but the “why” behind it.
- They try to help people understand the direction and why they are going that way.
- They understand that helping people understand the why helps build buy-in and support.
- They also help their employees understand the why of their work or tasks, too.
- They help tie the employee’s work to the overall vision and mission of the company and give it meaning and purpose.
Thinking leadership is all about you and your goals
Poor leaders focus on themselves. They have their own agenda, and their own agenda supersedes that of the organization and their team.
Good leaders put the organization and their team first.
Never apologize or admit mistakes
Weak leaders fear admitting mistakes.
- They let ego or insecurity stop them.
- They may even double down on their poor decision because they don’t want to admit they are wrong.
Good leaders admit mistakes.
- They are humble.
- They know when they admit mistakes and apologize when wrong.
- They build trust and loyalty in their people.
- They know it also makes them look human.
Not knowing your weaknesses and strengths
It may not seem like a big deal, but if you don’t know what your strengths are, you can’t focus on those. And, if you don’t know what your weaknesses are, you can’t get others to help you with those weaknesses.
You may be hurting yourself and your organization without knowing it. You could be wasting hours and hours of time on something you shouldn’t be doing in the first place or that someone else could do much faster and better (and enjoy it more) than you.
You are never going to be good at everything. By knowing your weaknesses and strengths, you can hire people who are good at your weaknesses and focus more on what you are best at.
Making changes just to show that you are in charge
Weak or insecure leaders feel like they have to “show” they are the leader and in charge. When a decision or plan is made, they always have to put their hand on it, making some kind of “tweak”.
If someone else does a plan or action without their input, it could make them “look bad”.
Taking credit when things go well
Poor leaders take all the credit when things go well.
- They don’t share it with the team.
- They are focused more on making themselves look good.
Holding ideas and plans as your “baby”
Leaders are ineffective when they hold onto ideas like it is their baby.
It can happen to any of us.
- We have an idea or plan, and we love it.
- Don’t want anyone to criticize it or change it.
- We take any criticism of the idea personally as if it is a criticism of us.
This is dangerous. When you hold on to ideas like your baby, you don’t listen to potential problems and helpful feedback, and you could send your team in a dangerous direction. Your idea may be a flop, but because you are so in love with it, you keep going anyway. Not good.
Fostering an environment of fear
When you create a “gotcha” environment where you as a leader are out looking for when people do wrong, or when you punish every failure and mistake, you create an environment of fear.
When people feel management is out to get them or fear making a mistake or failing at something because of the negative repercussions, people will stop taking risks. They will stop innovating, only do what is easy, and only do what they know they can succeed in.
That’s not a good place for the company to be in.
Having a constant negative attitude
Negativity is a killer of productivity and morale. Few things can destroy a meeting or outing more than a really negative person who infects the entire event.
Negativity kills productivity. When people are negative, they aren’t looking at solutions, they are looking at the problem and often just complaining.
Negativity easily spreads, and as a leader, it’s likely to spread even more.
If you are negative about the company and its mission or goals, it will rub off on your team. If you aren’t passionate about it, they won’t be either.Negativity is a killer of productivity and morale. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
Not seeking to learn or grow
One of the gravest mistakes that leaders can make is to think they have arrived or “know enough”.
As a leader, you should always be learning and growing and trying to improve yourself. When you stop learning, you start falling behind.
- Learning opens up your mind to new ideas, and new solutions, and can spur great innovations.
- It can help you be a better person, relate better to others, and grow your company’s profits.
- And, as you read and learn, you will learn more and more about how much you don’t know.
Making something up when you don’t know something
When leaders let egos get in the way, it’s dangerous.
Confident leaders will admit when they don’t know and look for the answer. They know they are stronger by admitting ignorance because it makes them look more human and gives them a chance to grow.
Insecure or weak leaders are afraid to admit not knowing, so they make something up. They may even then double down on that made-up answer and push it, all out of fear of looking bad!
This is dangerous because:
- It makes you look weak as a leader.
- Making up stuff can lead to dangerous plans and decisions that can hurt you, your team, and your company.
Getting upset when employees outdo you
I had a friend who helped raise money for a non-profit organization. He was doing really well and was raising more money than his supervisor.
Sadly, his supervisor got upset because he was doing better than her. She was afraid it would make her look bad, so she didn’t want him to do so well.
How backward is that?
She was more focused on her own success, and not that of the organization. And, more than that, what she didn’t realize, was that his success actually made her look good as a supervisor – but she missed that.
He ended up moving and working under a different leader.
Gossiping or talking behind people’s backs
It’s bad enough when employees gossip – it’s even worse when leaders do.
Leaders should set an example of professionalism. If you have a problem with someone, you talk with them one-on-one. You don’t spread gossip or rumors or try to create sides.
Gossip hurts the team, the company, and your reputation as a leader.
Tolerating gossip, infighting, and drama in the team
Gossip, infighting, and drama are signs of an unhealthy culture, and an unhealthy culture means an unproductive and less-profitable (or soon-to-be-defunct) company.
When that is the norm in the company, it means the leaders have created an environment where it is welcome and tolerated – and/or “encouraged”.
By “encouraged” I mean that if feedback and disagreement aren’t welcome and communication is sparse, people will share their feedback – just at the water cooler instead.
Putting down upper management decisions, ideas, and goals
Good leaders look to the why of upper management decisions and try to find ways to support them, even when they don’t disagree (unless it’s immoral, etc.). They know that if they disregard it or put it down, their team will as well.
Giving public reprimands
Reprimands should generally be done in private. If someone has an issue, then pull them aside and talk with them.
Reprimanding in public will only embarrass the employee and build ill will toward you who is giving the reprimand. It also prevents you from really finding out the issue (sometimes it’s not what we think) because you didn’t take the time to talk to them to find out.
Allowing employees to triangulate
Triangulation is when you allow your team or others to come to you about their issues with someone else instead of them talking with the person about it.
They are bringing in a third party to try to solve it for them instead of trying to solve it themselves.
It shouldn’t work that way.
It doesn’t mean that you should never let them bring these issues to you or that you can’t help mediate, but your first step should be encouraging and helping them learn to deal with issues themselves first, and if it doesn’t work, then take the next step with you.
Making new bureaucratic rules to solve people’s problems
One mistake that some leaders make is when dealing with people’s problems. Because of the fear of confrontation (or not wanting to admit they made a mistake in training, expectations, or hiring), instead of confronting someone about an issue, they just create new rules.
Now, because of this one person’s poor behavior, everyone is affected by a new rule that everyone must follow. (This is leadership passive-aggressively dealing with the issue.)
- This creates issues.
- It frustrates other workers and lowers morale.
- Over time, you create a bunch of rules that hinder productivity instead of helping it. And you still have the problem person who was never dealt with.
It also shows that leadership isn’t finding why the problem happened in the first place.
- Was it a hiring issue?
- Is the person in the wrong position?
- Were expectations not presented well?
- Did the person need more training?
Focusing more on rules than the people affected by the rules
In bureaucratic environments, it can be easy for leaders to focus on the rules instead of the people. They are about making sure the people follow the rules and are out to find ones that don’t.
What they fail to realize is that the rules are for the people, not people for the rules. If the rules don’t help people do their job or make things more efficient or effective, why does it exist?
Rules should never exist just to exist. If it’s made to deal with people problems, cut those rules and deal with the people (and adjust training and hiring policies and whatever else you might need to adjust on your end).
Competing with other departments
Another mistake leaders make is seeing other departments and people in the company as “them”. When you start seeing work as “us” vs. “them”, you are in trouble.
When that is the case:
- There is a lack of unity and trust.
- There is division.
- There is lower productivity.
As a company, you are one team pursuing the greater goal, not separate departments fighting over their own wants and resources.
Not taking time to listen to others’ input
One of the best tools leaders can use is listening. It helps you see your mistakes, understand situations better, help people feel heard, and helps you make better decisions.
Sometimes leaders think they know better than everyone else or they assume they know exactly what happened in a situation and why this person did this or that. And, usually, they are wrong.
Good leaders take time to listen to people and try to understand. They assume they don’t know everything and ask great questions so they can learn.
Assuming you know everything about an issue
Another mistake that leaders make is assuming they know everything about a particular situation, and they don’t take the time to listen, explore, and find out.
When this happens, many more mistakes and poor decisions are made.
- You may reprimand someone for not finishing the work as you wanted, but in reality, it is because you didn’t set clear expectations.
- You may assume one direction is the best, but if you took the time to listen to your team, you might realize it’s not the best decision.
Not providing autonomy to employees
One of the big three motivations for employees (and humans in general) is autonomy.
People like to have some form of control over their lives and work. When they feel they are micromanaged and have no choice in what they do or how they do it, it can greatly lower morale and productivity.
Not giving purpose to employees
Another of the big three motivations for employees is purpose.
People like to know and believe that what they do has some greater purpose. If they are given a bunch of tasks but there is seemingly no purpose behind them, no connection to the big picture, their motivation and productivity will be much lower.Good leaders make sure to help tie what the employees do to the company’s goals and mission and even to a greater purpose. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
Not providing a path of growth for employees
Another one of the big three motivations is growth and mastery. People want to grow and master their jobs and their skills.
When you don’t provide opportunities for them to do that, but they just do the “same boring tasks” day in and day out with no opportunity to challenge themselves and grow, your employees will generally lose motivation.
Prioritizing tasks and time poorly
When leaders prioritize poorly, they waste not only their time but also their employees’ time on tasks and projects that have little value.
Good leaders make sure to see the bigger picture and prioritize the most important tasks and projects first. They help their employees learn how to prioritize effectively as well.
Having unrealistic expectations for employees
It’s good to have high expectations for your employees. They often will live up to the expectations you give them, whether good or bad.
However, unrealistic expectations have the opposite effect. If you truly expect the impossible from them, it will frustrate your employees, lower morale, lower productivity, and may even cause some of your best to leave.
Never considering people’s thoughts or emotions when making decisions
While you can’t base all your decisions on other people’s feelings, it is a mistake to not consider them when you do make decisions.
A right decision that everyone is against and won’t follow is a bad decision.
If you take the time to understand people’s thoughts and emotions and the whys, then you can adjust the decision as needed to help with buy-in, or you can help allay fears or set things in place to help them understand so that you increase buy-in.
Focusing on problems instead of solutions and opportunities
Weak leaders constantly look at problems. They stay in reactive mode. They see problems only as problems.
Strong leaders do the opposite.
- They acknowledge reality, but they keep the belief that it can be overcome.
- They see problems not only as problems but as opportunities in disguise.
- They look at how to maximize their problems.
- Instead of only looking at the problem, they look at solutions.
- They are also more proactive and learn from problems to help prevent them in the future.
Caring only about short-term results
One major mistake you can make as a leader is to only look at the short-term results and ignore the long-term. Too many leaders focus on maximizing profit or getting by for this quarter that they ignore the long-term effects of the decisions they make.
Smart leaders want to make sure they are okay in the short term (you must survive), but they keep their eye on the long term.
They are more about making a long-term profitable and valuable company instead of making a show of profit for one particular quarter.
They know that they may have to make less profit now so that in the long run, they are growing and profiting more than ever.
Fearing showing weaknesses
Some leaders fear showing weakness because they fear people will respect them less and that it will make them look weak.
The opposite is generally true.
- When you admit your mistakes and weaknesses, it makes you look more human.
- You are more relatable.
- It also shows you as more honest.
And, the truth is, other people see your weaknesses. You likely aren’t revealing anything new. It’s usually when you won’t admit your mistakes that look weak.
Scheduling meetings for everything
Meetings are necessary at times, but they are definitely not needed all the time. Many issues can be handled by a quick email, phone call, or conversation.
If you call a meeting about everything, you will waste a lot of people’s time (including yours) and frustrate your team members.
Good leaders listen. They don’t act like they know everything. They know they can learn from others.
In meetings, while you may lead the agenda and meeting, you need to make sure to listen to the advice and input of those at the meeting.
Not setting clear expectations in meetings
It’s important to set clear expectations in meetings. People should know what’s expected of them.
For example, it is expected for everyone to be prepared, to be on time, and to stay on task. It’s expected that all input and disagreement are welcome, and disagreement will be handled appropriately.
Not setting an agenda (or not following it)
One mistake is to not have an agenda for a meeting. When you don’t, there’s no focus, it can go everywhere, and it can be frustrating to the team.
It’s also important that you follow the agenda. Not following it has the same effect as not having one at all.
Having an agenda helps you (and everyone else) from wasting each other’s time, jumping around between topics, chasing after rabbits, etc.
Waiting for people to arrive to start your meeting
If you wait for people to make it to the meeting, you will always be waiting.
Start the meeting on time even if everyone isn’t there. If them being late and interrupting isn’t enough to change their behavior, have a conversation with them (or just have one). Set the expectation that being on time is expected.
Also, make sure to end on time. This can help you stick to the agenda even better and help keep you from wasting time. If it’s a 30-minute meeting, at the end of the 30 minutes, call it.
Not allowing pushback or disagreement in meetings
It’s a mistake to avoid disagreement or to not allow pushback on ideas. That’s how ideas get better. That’s how potential pitfalls can be found.
Disagreement should be encouraged and accepted by all. People should separate themselves from their ideas, and leaders should help them in this process.
Being tolerant of negative behaviors in meetings
You get what you tolerate. Even if you set good expectations, if you tolerate negative behavior, you will get negative behavior.
Ignoring trends and change
New technologies and ways of doing things will continue to change. It’s a mistake to ignore it.
When you do, you get left behind. Too many leaders do this. Too many leaders fail because of it.Ignoring trends and changes is how many great companies have fallen. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet
Having low expectations of your team
You often get what you expect from people. If you have very low expectations for your team, you will show that with your actions, and, generally, people live up to those expectations.
Trying to do everything yourself (not delegating)
New leaders and others sometimes have a hard time delegating.
- They feel like they must do everything themselves.
- They may feel it won’t be done right if they don’t.
Leaders should train and delegate tasks to employees. Their whole purpose is to lead people toward a goal, not do it all for them.
Many don’t delegate effectively because they are perfectionists, micromanagers (wanting it exactly a certain way), or they don’t know how to teach well enough to help their team do the task effectively.
Being a “yes-man/woman” for upper management
Good leaders are willing to disagree with those above them, though they may use tact when needed. Always agreeing leads to bad decisions and, in the long run, makes you look weak as a leader and as a person.
Never examine or ask others about blind spots
We all have blind spots. If we never examine ourselves or ask about them, we won’t learn them and will keep making the same dumb mistakes that we don’t even know we are making.
We could be hindering ourselves and our careers in tremendous ways and not know it.
Living in reactive vs. proactive mode
Ineffective leaders are reactive. Effective leaders are proactive. Ineffective leaders don’t plan ahead or examine potential problems. They wait till something comes along and then react to it.
Effective leaders look ahead, look for potential problems and pitfalls, and do what they can to prevent or mitigate the problems before they even happen.
Not acting with integrity
If you don’t act with integrity, not much else matters. If people can’t trust you with your word, you are going to have a much harder time influencing them and getting them to follow you.
And, once you lose that trust, it can be hard to get it back.
Letting others make decisions to avoid responsibility
Some leaders are “delegative” because they fear making decisions themselves.
They fear making the wrong decision or they want to be able to cast blame easier if the decision turns out poorly.
Every leader needs to realize that, no matter how much input is received and how you make the decision, you, the leader, are ultimately responsible for that decision, period.
Thinking you are “above” those that work for you
One mistake I see leaders make is that when they get into a leadership position, they suddenly feel they are smarter or better than those below them. They feel they know what leadership is because they are in a leadership position.
That’s not true. You aren’t necessarily better or smarter. You’re just in a different role.
If you act like you are better than everyone, you will lose influence and greatly hurt your effectiveness as a leader.
Making all decisions go through you first
Effective leaders train and entrust their teams to make decisions that move them toward the goal.
Ineffective leaders don’t trust their team, and they make all decisions and go through them to make sure they are “right”.
This bogs down decision-making wastes the leader’s time and frustrates staff (and customers).
Switching between goals and initiatives too fast
Some things take time. If you are impatient and keep switching goals and initiatives, you may not ever have time to have it come to fruition.
Also, constantly switching lowers buy-in from employees, as it’s seen as just another “initiative of the month.”
Pursuing too many goals or priorities
When you pursue too many goals or priorities at once, then none of them are going to be done well. Pursuing too many can also cause overwhelm and keep or delay you from doing anything.
As Jocko Willink says in his book Extreme Ownership, you need to “Prioritize and Execute”.
Choose the one main priority or goal (in some cases, 2-3 might be okay) and focus on that. Get it done, then start working on the next.
Final Thoughts on 75 Common Leadership Mistakes
Leadership mistakes don’t have to be made.
While there are a lot of mistakes that leaders can make, now that you know what they are, you can work to avoid them.
But, the truth is, as humans, we are going to make mistakes. It would be a mistake not to realize that. When that happens, give yourself self-compassion and forgiveness, learn from the mistake, and move forward.
The greatest leadership mistake you could make is to keep doing the same thing without changing.
Now to you, what leadership mistakes have you made that you’ve learned from? Let us know in the comments below.