There are two ways to learn from mistakes: make your own, or learn from other people’s mistakes. Leadership is an area where you are definitely better off learning from the mistakes of others. It is wise to avoid making the most common mistakes of leadership so you can focus on the more intricate details of your leadership skill set.
Management companies, CEOs, and business consultants have studied and discovered the four following common leadership mistakes. You’ll notice there is a common underlying theme in all of these points: communication. As a leader you are absolutely ineffective if you are not clearly, regularly, and enthusiastically communicating with your team. So as you work on your communication skills, be aware of these four specific problem areas.
1. No Feedback to Individual Team Members
As a leader you have the ability to get a big picture view of your team. Assess your team as a whole but also take the time to evaluate each team member. Make note of those that are highly effective as well as those who could improve in some areas. But here is the tough part: you need to communicate your observations to the team members. This may be a very positive experience or it might be confrontational, but giving feedback to members about their work is essential to improving quality.
2. Failure to Clearly State Goals
Everyone, including yourself, wants to know why they are doing the work they are doing. They want to know what the end result is supposed to be, how it fits into the big picture of the project, and where that project is going. As a leader you must let the team know their specific goals and how those fit into the company goals. One technique you can use to see if goals are being communicated is to go to the lowest person on the team – maybe an intern or the newest hire – and ask them how their work fits into the end goal or result. If they are unable tell you in a sentence or two you need to work on the lines of communication.
As you rise in your leadership role you need to delegate.
3. Not Delegating
Most people got into their leadership position by being extremely involved and invested in their work product. This can often lead to an attitude of “just getting it done myself.” But as you rise in your leadership role you need to delegate some responsibilities. You must place trust in members of your team to get key tasks accomplished. This also dovetails into another responsibility of leadership: developing future leaders. Future leaders must be given increasing amounts of responsibility in order to test and train them.
4. Not Living Up to the Leadership Standard
Leadership requires that leaders display a professional standard which represents their department or company in a professional light. Leaders can accomplish this in two ways:
- A leader needs to believe in their company and products. It is paramount that a leader is enthusiastic, excited, and positive about their position and company. Enthusiasm is as contagious as pessimism, so leaders need to display true, genuine enthusiasm for their work.
- Leaders need to have a real appreciation and respect for their team members. Remember, each team member has a special set of skills and brings their own unique viewpoint to the task. Let them know and don’t assume you know more than they do because of your position of leadership.
As a leader you are always a work in progress. Don’t ever think that you’ve reached the top and have nothing left to learn. Effective leaders consistently seek out new learning opportunities and situations to add to their leadership toolbox.