Top 7 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid
By Kevin Kearns
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No matter how great you are (or think you are,) you make mistakes. The good news is there is no rule that says you need to make mistakes other people have made. Instead, I encourage you to learn from the mistakes of other leaders or at least learn from mistakes you may currently be making. Read the following lost of common leader mistakes and avoid them! Then, you can save your mistakes for bigger things!
- Chief, Guy, Sport: Calling others by generic nicknames. Using nicknames with people is fine when it is a nickname the person wants. I have never met anyone who asked me to call them "sport." General nicknames have no personal meaning and therefore have no positive impact. The possibility of having a negative affect is always there.
- Do as I say...: Expecting employees not to follow your example. Your employees are always watching. They see what you do and what you don't. Don't make the mistake of thinking it is okay for you, but not for them. They may respond with whining if you are lucky. Or, they may become resentful and look for ways to sabotage what you are trying to create. Remember, when it comes to leadership, you can always show them better than you can tell them.
- My Buddy: Being a friend and not a leader. We all want to be liked. As a leader, being liked must come secondary to meeting the needs of your organization and your team. Much like a parent has to do things for the good of the child (even if the child responds negatively,) a leader must lead by principles and not be impacted by the emotional baggage that friendship brings with them. We place different expectations on leaders and friends. When the roles are combined, the expectations become confusing. Confusion often leads to trouble.
- Assumption Junction: Not checking, assuming things are going well. I am not going to use it as an acronym, but when you assume, you are putting your success in other people's hands. The more important the outcome, the less amount of assumption there should be on your part. You do not have time to check everything constantly. However, you still cannot afford to assume important tasks are coming along just fine. Follow up - even with your most trusted employees. This will offer an opportunity to correct any error, or your employees will have a great opportunity to show you their great work.
- Not yet: Relegating small tasks to the "not yet" category. We all have to prioritize our tasks in order to manage our time effectively. However, we also need to recognize when we are not going to do something. Responding with "not yet" when asked if we accomplished a task is a trap many leaders fall into. Too many "not yets" to the same person and you start to look unreliable. Sure, you are accomplishing the big projects - but if that person keeps hearing "not yet" they will think either you are a flake, or you do not have much respect for them. Make it easy, just say "no" to the small things you will likely never get to completing.
- Peak-a-Boo: Thinking problems will go away if left alone. You may get lucky once in a while. A problem employee quits before you talk to them about performance. Or, a new manager decides to step down from her position because they realize the position was not a good fit. It is such a relief when those things just happen in our favor. Unfortunately, the lucky breaks don't come often enough and you damage your credibility with your team by not doing the right thing. Pretending the pink elephant is not in the room makes great analogies, but it does not help motivate teams. Peak-a-Boo - EVERYONE SEES YOU!
- WAH WAH WAH: Complaining to employees. Your organization does not benefit from hearing you complain. If you are upset about something, live with it or deal with it - but never cry to your employees about it. Two bad things can happen. One, they leverage this extra emotional power for their benefit. Two, they become jaded toward the organization, leadership, or other employees. If you are so overwhelmed by something, speak to your supervisor, a leader of the same level, hire a coach, or get a new job!
Kevin Kearns is President of Kearns Advantage, a leadership coaching company. Kearns Advantage has a proven track record of developing strong leaders. Kevin holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. Subscribe to Kevins free leadership newsletter at http://www.kearnsadvantage.com.
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Article Submitted On: August 02, 2005