“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
– John Wooden
We all make mistakes. However, it is important to realize that every mistake has a take-away from it. Get that right and the mistake can turn out to be a great learning opportunity. But nothing is better than not making mistakes and doing things right from the very start.
Being a good leader isn’t easy. It never has been and probably never will be. With so many responsibilities on your shoulders, there are bound to be times when you feel overwhelmed resulting in panic and mistakes, despite your best efforts and intentions.
Irrespective of how much you hate to admit it, not all your decisions are going to be good ones. Of course, as a leader you’ll have to take risks, with or without the complete knowledge of all the factors involved. Some mistakes may result in temporary setbacks, others may put a full stop to your career. But what largely matters is how you deal with the mistake and its consequences.
The best leaders are those who accept their leadership mistakes and use them as stepping stones to success. They believe in learning and growing not only from their own errors, but also of others.
Mentioned ahead are a few common mistakes that leaders make, but can be easily avoided.
1. Trying To Do Everything Yourself
Good leaders know their teams well and understand the importance of working with them rather than doing everything by themselves. They make the effort of figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and delegate tasks accordingly. Not only does this help in the timely and successful completion of the task, it creates better team dynamics.
Leaders who think they know everything, or that they need to do the task themselves in order to get it right only end up antagonizing their team in the long-term. Irrespective of how smart you may think you are, know that nobody likes to be led by someone who thinks he’s omniscient and show little faith in his team.
Good leaders know how to get the most from their team, that there is always more to learn and actively look to gain new knowledge every day.
2. Poor Communication
Poor communication or the lack of it can lead to major miscommunications and/or communication gaps. There are, however, solutions like time tracking, collaboration tools, and scheduling applications, which if utilized optimally, can help alleviate the road bumps that can possibly occur.
While it can be difficult for leaders (who are perpetually swamped with work) to send out and receive messages all the time, it is important that they set aside some time to do so.
Good leaders make it a point to convey to their teams all the information they need to do their job quickly and efficiently.
Further, good leadership comes from good communication skills. Simply getting your message across without verifying the content may lead to its misinterpretation, which can be detrimental to your growth. Remember, it’s not just your words that can be taken out of context; your actions invite just as much scrutiny.
3. Not Setting Goals
Your team looks up to you for providing them with direction and purpose. This can come only when you set realistic goals which are in alignment with the organization’s objectives. This is a key job of any leader. Without a proper goal, your team is bound to go off-track.
4. Avoiding Change
Change is the only permanent thing, so any attempt to resist it will prove to be futile. If you think you can keep the business environment from changing, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Technology changes, people and processes change and so do organizational goals and objectives. It, therefore, makes sense to prepare and adapt (or even become harbingers) of change, and make the necessary arrangements to address it before or as soon as it comes into effect.
5. Not Providing Feedback
The only way to ensure that your team stays on the right track is by constantly monitoring them and providing them with timely feedback. Feedback can be positive or negative, depending on their performance.
Positive feedback may be followed by rewards and recognition, whereas negative feedback should be followed by corrective measures. Doing so regularly will result in improved employee morale, performance and loyalty.
6. Looking for Shortcut Solutions to Every Problem
Most problems come with solutions which may be quick, but these solutions are not always the best. As a leader, it is your duty to provide ideal solutions to problems.
However, in your zeal to solve problems quickly, do not make a hasty decision or do anything that you will regret later. Some problems take time to resolve.
7. Not Being There for Your Team
There’s no denying that leadership is a people job. You need to stand with your team when they need you in order to gain their trust and confidence.
You may be their leader but when it comes to work, it’s not about you, but about the team. If the overall performance is as a team consistently meets or exceeds expectations, then you’re doing a good job as a leader.
8. Not Making Work Engaging
One of the greatest responsibilities of a leader is to make work fun for his team. Doing so is important to keep them engaged and look forward to coming to the workplace.
Keep in mind that your people spend the better part of their day at work. It is, therefore, important to make the office a pleasant place for them.
Being a leader is challenging, but being a great leader is even more so. The good news, however, is that everyone can learn from their mistakes, improvise on them and avoid making errors in the future. Leading a team can be an extremely gratifying experience, but it takes time for everyone to settle into their role. Remember, leaders before you have made their share of mistakes too. It is true that mistakes can provide learning opportunities, but taking the time to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become more productive, successful, and highly respected by your team.