Five Mistakes Every Leader Makes

Five Mistakes that Every Leader Makes
by Susan West

No one is the perfect leader. The journey to leadership involves
making mistakes. Mistakes are the seeds of great learning. If we
are not making mistakes then we are not stepping out of our
comfort zone and continuing our professional development. The key
to great leadership, however, is recognizing when a mistake is
made and taking responsibility for its impact. Leaders strive
to become aware of what some of the most common mistakes are and
try to avoid making them.

Forgetting What You Stand For. Nothing is more confusing than to
have a leader say one thing and act in a manner distinctly
opposite. Sayings like “Walk the talk”, have become popular as
simple reminders of how important keeping your behavior and your
words aligned,

Sounding Like Your Mother. There can be a fine line between
communicating with respectful authority versus parental commands.
Using the commanding, intimidating, diminishing phrases that many
of us grew up with fall out of our mouths so quickly we may
surprise ourselves. I remember once using the phrase – ‘I have a
bone to pick with you” with one of the employees in my
department. The moment I said it, I knew it was inappropriate and
yet the situation which I was attempting to address reminded me
very much like the one where my behavior when I was six required
discipline by my mother. “Because I said so”, “Do as I say” are
not motivators and a leader’s influence will soon wane if your
style of communicating consistently borders on sounding like a

Lacking Laughter, a Sense of Fun. The nature of running and
leading a company or department is serious business and so
bringing a sense of humor and lightheartedness to the workplace
can be both refreshing and rejuvenating. Taking a moment to laugh
over the phrase “having a bone to pick with you” is reminder that
we are all human. Leaders need to find the balance that relieves
all work and no play for their teams and themselves.

Holding Back Information, Not Sharing What’s Needed. Leaders have
access to so much information. Many times leaders fall into the
trap of censoring information; withholding information. The
reasons are endless – “That involves sales, not us”, “The
employees will misunderstand why this is needed”, etc. Leaders
are role models. Leaders are the examples for others on what is
acceptable behavior. An approach of withholding information can
be go both ways – From the leader and to the leader. Setting the
stage for open communication can be the key to not being
blindsided. Sharing all kinds of information in a direct and
interactive way shows a respect for others and their ability to
handle information responsibly.

Failing to Acknowledge Progress.  The day to day tasks,
meetings and deadlines can consume us. As a leader not only is
the present day activities looming but we must also be looking to
the future. Failing to reflect and take a good look at how far
an individual, a team or whole department has come is a missed
opportunity! Celebrating the small victories – a milestone met, a
cost savings realized, a client compliment – can energize and
motivate for weeks to come. Burnout from the pressures of both
home and work activities is looming near for many workers. As a
leader the effort to acknowledge a job well done, a great
presentation, even acknowledging the tenacity to stick with a
project can make someone’s day.

Remember no one is perfect and leaders’ exposure to
feedback that are reminders of this is overwhelming at times. Keep
these common mistakes in one of those “mind files” so a flag of
caution is certain to be raised when a mistake is about  to be made.
And certainly, remember a simple apology and taking responsibility
for your mistakes can make an otherwise long recovery much
smoother and simpler.

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