Regardless if you’ve been in a leadership role for decades or just recently become a leader, you have what seems like the weight of the world on your shoulders. Whether it’s putting out fires, motivating your team, or achieving positive outcomes — the only way you’ll be successful is by avoiding these eight disastrous leadership mistakes.
1. Publicly criticizing and bullying others.
We’re all human and make mistakes. While some mishaps are worse than others — like losing a client compared showing-up five minutes late to work — there’s a better approach than belittling your team.
Your first instinct might be to yell, threaten, or criticize team members in front of others. But these tactics rarely work. Putting your frustration and temper on-display for all to see, shows that you don’t respect your employees and reveals that you have a lower emotional IQ. Worse, this destructive criticism attacks their self-esteem, which in turn decreases their morale, engagement, and productivity. This degradation may even lead to an employee holding a grudge against you.
When an employee makes a mistake, it is a much better leadership style to pull them aside and find a solution. Taking them aside privately allows your employee to learn, grow and focus on finding a solution instead of being blamed. All of this change can take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.
2. Not properly delegating work.
Being unable to properly delegate work is arguably one of the most common mistakes that leaders make. Not understanding how to assign work equitably is usually caused by bosses who are young and inexperienced. Great leaders delegate assignments according to skill and interest. I doubt you would have your content writer or social media manager code your organization’s top mobile app.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask your team to volunteer for new responsibilities. You may discover that they possess unique skills you weren’t aware of. Additionally, when you hand out assignments, you need to state your desired outcome, expectations, and deadlines clearly. Your employees will appreciate knowing all of the details that you require so that they won’t waste their time on an assignment that doesn’t meet your criteria.
3. Failing to provide and receive feedback.
Being a great leader means giving and receiving feedback. That’s not always easy — many reject admitting to their shortcomings. But, research shows that the best leaders ask for more feedback. The reasons a leader asks for feedback may vary, but, feedback gives the leader an opportunity to improve, grow, and learn. Anonymous assessment of a leaders style and how it impacts employees will assist you in becoming a more effective leader. Don’t hesitate to ask your team how you can improve.
Your staff also benefits from feedback. Your positive feedback can drive employee engagement by letting them know what they did right and what needs improvements. Evaluations can also help establish expectations and prevent workplace conflicts. Observations can foster an environment where dialogue and communication are encouraged.
4. Discouraging creativity and innovation.
As a leader, you’re experienced and knowledgeable. But, it will be beneficial to everyone involved if you also have to realize that you don’t know everything. I know it’s a lot asking for you to put your ego aside. When you insist that you’re the only genius with all of the answers and solutions — you’re discouraging creativity and innovation.
Let others share their ideas. You’ll be surprised at how brilliant these fresh ideas and perspectives can be to you and how quickly ideas given by others will catapult creativity, innovation, and commitment in the workplace. The simple act of allowing others to “know” something imbues them with power and will give you a competitive edge.
When someone does have a fantastic idea — reward them. An accolade will keep an employee motivated to keep the light-bulb burning long after their regular work is completed.
5. Taking on unnecessary work.
Leaders often have the “if you want something done right, do it yourself” mentality. Sometimes that’s true. If you’ve been fixing website crashes for a decade, then obviously you would step-in ahead of an intern. At the same team, you can’t consistently complete or adjust your employees’ work until it’s to your liking.
Redoing everyone’s work is a piece from the micromanaging recipe book. Glaring perfectionistic eyes down at your team members until it drives them to the point of insanity wastes your valuable time. Keep in mind, the job is owned by the team member; the task delegated; now leave it alone. The buck will ultimately stop with you, but, let your employees do what they were hired to do.
Provide the dignity and respect to everyone in the company by allowing them to do their own work; no badgering them or looking over their shoulders. Both you and your employees will be more productive as you keep your hands off the tasks that aren’t yours. Keeping your eyes on your company goals lets your team know that you trust them; it also lessens your workload so that you can focus on the jobs that build a strong company.
6. Solving problems with a quick fix.
Are there are times when you need to take immediate action by quick thinking on your feet? Absolutely. But, solving each and every problem doesn’t always get addressed. Addressing a problem or providing potential solutions have to have the right questions asked first.
For example, let’s say that an employee tells you that they’re not happy. Maybe you offer them a raise. That may be only putting a band-aid on the situation. Questions need to be asked of the employee for understanding. Why aren’t they happy? Is it because they aren’t doing meaningful work? Are they being harassed by a coworker? Is the commute too long for them?
Until you get the actual the reason behind an employees unhappiness, and they feel like you have heard them — that quick fix of a raise will only go so far. It’s tempting to think you’ve solved a problem with the quick-fix and move on. But, rarely can an issue be resolved this way. Take those couple of extra minutes right at the beginning of a problem and you will be shocked at how promptly problems can truly be fixed.
7. Resisting change.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to anticipate trends and make plans how you’ll leverage them. Take for example flexible work hours and remote work. That concept may be frightening for someone who firmly believes that everyone should be in the office from nine-five Monday through Friday.
The reality is that research from Stanford shows that employees concentrate better at home. They’re also more likely to work their entire shift, resignations decreased, and profits increase for the company.
8. Failing to set goals.
Goals are what give you and your employee’s direction and purpose. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your team are on the same page and working towards the overall goals of the organization.
What’s more, you also need to make sure that each employee is aligning their personal goals with those of the company. Aligning goals to that of the company gives meaning to an employees’ work since it lets them know how their efforts are contributing to the grand scheme. Once the employee buys into the vision of the team — they are much more valuable.