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Overcoming Leadership Mistakes


Let’s face it, overcoming leadership mistakes can be exhausting and measuring up to the expectations takes you off your game. Leaders that push any worthwhile cause forward will inevitably make mistakes. This is a fundamental part of growing and developing into a leader of consequence.

As a leader, your mistakes are usually on full display for the team to see. How you choose to respond to and learn from them is where you have control. If you use the right strategy to fix your mistakes, recovering from them becomes much easier.

Consider these five (5) leadership mistakes and how to fix them:

  1. Ignoring the opinions of others. It's true that you got into that leadership position by displaying traits that your organization values. Avoid forgetting the support team that helped you along the way. It's important to value the opinions and ideas of those who supported you.
  • Ask for ideas even when they're not needed. As a leader, showing continued belief in the team makes it easier to gain and keep their trust.
  • Even if an idea isn’t popular or feasible, thank the team members for their input. Remind them that one idea sparks more ideas. Although a basic concept it’s usually overlooked.
  1. Feeling indispensable.As a leader of significance, it's easy to start feeling indispensable. However, avoid getting into that mode as much as possible. Remember you weren’t the first and you certainly won't be the last person in your position!
  • Remember how you got there in the first place.
  • Pay attention to your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). What's required for you to maintain your position? Clearly know each KPI, understand them, be able to articulate the detail and results around each, and align your team to achieve them. Nothing gets more negative visibility from senior leaders than consistently missing the mark on your KPI’s.
  1. Lack of communication.Keeping the lines of communication open and encouraging open communication are the best ways to lead effectively. Everyone on your team needs to hear from you.
  • Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, keep your team members engaged and informed. Daily 15-minute stand-up meetings are a great place to start.
  • Schedule regular meetings with your team. Avoid having meetings only when there's a problem to solve. Team members like to feel connected with what's going on. Leverage weekly one-on-ones with your direct staff and hold skip level discussions with their reports at least monthly on a rotational basis.
  • Foster an environment where your team members feel comfortable approaching you. Allow them to feel like you want to hear from them. 
  1. Sidestepping recognition.Remember that your team is as strong as its weakest link. It’s extremely important to recognize the input of each team member.This is the best way to ensure commitment and dedication to you as their leader.
  • Yes, you enjoy the recognition garnered from leading a successful team. But it's critical to share that recognition with your team members. Personally, I get the greatest joy by helping others succeed and get ahead.
  • Provide individual recognition for a job well done. Pats on the back are great and expected of all good leaders but diversify the recognition on other creative and low-cost ways too. Think about giving movie tickets, dinner for two, half a day off, etc. These will go a long way in demonstrating your appreciation.
  • Use a group forum to recognize the contributions of specific team members. This allows them to feel worthwhile and gain the respect of their peers. This could be done at a scheduled Town Hall or similar event.
  1. Ignoring difficult responsibilities.Leadership isn’t going to be rosy all the time. There are difficulties that you will have to face occasionally. The worst thing you can do is shy away from the tough decisions and responsibilities. Put on a brave face and show why you were chosen to lead them in the first place.
  • Do you need to reprimand or provide behavioral coaching to someone? Avoid putting it off. Get right to the point and remind the person of your expectations. Being mean spirited or displaying negative body language are not required to do this well. Your employee will appreciate that aspect of the discussion.
  • You were put in that leadership role for a reason. Always keep that reason at the forefront of your mind. Live up to the expectations of others and do what’s expected.

If this is your first leadership role, you'll realize it’s a work in progress. No two days are the same. And each experience requires a different approach. Avoid these leadership mistakes and adhere to the fixes. That way, you can adequately equip yourself to lead successfully.

Check out this related post from leadership expert Michael Tanner as he walks through team dynamics, culture, and how it impacts your success as a leader of people.

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