No one’s perfect and when the average imperfect individual finds him or herself in a leadership position, there are suddenly many more opportunities to mess up. As the scope of responsibility grows, the likelihood of making mistakes increases. Here are some common mistakes leaders make that have nothing to do with the technical aspects of the job. Rather, these mistakes are about people.
Failing to respect subordinates
This is amazingly common! For some reason, when a person assumes a leadership role, they completely forget what it was like to be on the other side. All those behaviors the new leader complained about before becoming a leader mysteriously disappear and he or she becomes what they had previously despised.
This goes two ways. First, leaders often fail to keep team members informed, either assuming they don’t need to know or worrying that disseminating too much information will reduce their standing as the leader. The opposite is actually true. Maybe your workers don’t need to know, but well informed workers usually perform better. Second, leaders fail to establish a culture that encourages subordinates to communicate with the boss. The most valuable information and the best ideas come from those closest to the action. Listen to them.
Often the team doesn’t really know the organization’s real mission and how they fit into that mission. Sure, they know their jobs, but they aren’t clear about where their organization is really going and how they can help it get there. When a team’s leader can explain not only the organization’s mission and goals, but also how that team’s members are important to accomplishing them, the team will be much more effective.
Failure to laugh at yourself
Many leaders take themselves too seriously. A good sense of humor is essential to maintaining sanity. The ability to laugh at your own mistakes goes a long way toward making life more bearable. That doesn’t mean leaders shouldn’t take their responsibilities seriously, but a lighter approach works better and will help you live longer.
Love of power
There’s a saying that power tends to corrupt. If you need an example of this, just look at many politicians and some corporate leaders. But, you don’t have to be a politician, CEO, or live in the c-suite for this to be a problem. Even a little bit of power can cause an addiction that is disastrous for leadership success. Leaders will quickly adapt to the perks of their position, no matter how small those perks might be. Whatever small amount of power they may have will soon become insufficient and they will often crave more. That’s when trouble starts. At first it’s minor, like flaunting their new parking spot, demanding the seat by the window, taking the corner office, or treating workers like servants. But, the quest for more power, and especially the perks that come with more power, can quickly lead the unwary leader down a road that leads to dismissal or even prison. It’s best not to think of leadership as power. Rather recognize it for what it really is; opportunity and responsibility.
Avoiding these mistakes will make you a better leader and your team more effective.