Do you think of yourself as a pretty good leader? You might well be just that: a “pretty good” leader. But chances are you could be a heckuva better leader. Because even if you don’t yell and wave your arms and rant at your employees like our friend in the photo above, you might still be making some pretty basic leadership mistakes without even realizing it. Here are seven of them:
Thinking you can be good at everything.
Well you can’t. Effective leaders know their strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t waste time and energy trying to force the latter to become the former. Instead, focus on what you’re good at, and try to become better at it. When it comes to what you’re not so good at, work on building up the members of your team who possess those talents instead.
Failing to correctly value people.
Great business leaders know that not everyone is looking for a promotion – but that doesn’t mean they lack ambition. And they also know that some people who clamor for promotions are not always the right ones to put forward. In other words, good leaders recognize and value the potential in their people – and use it wisely.
Some people’s first response to any idea or suggestion is to point out that it won’t work and why. If your first response is always negative, your team will become reluctant to present you with new ideas, and that means you’re going to miss out on all the innovation they’re capable of bringing to you. And isn’t that what you hired them for?
Missing opportunities to provide feedback.
People crave feedback about their work. Telling employees (publicly) when they’ve done a great job and (privately) when they need to do a bit of improving is key to keeping people engaged in their work. In fact, just saying “Thank you” for a job well done can make someone’s day. Great leaders remember to do little things like this because they pack a lot of punch.
Avoiding difficult conversations.
This is an important one. By not facing up to awkward situations or performance concerns, a good leader doesn’t enable employees to address the issues at hand. The resulting disruptions can create strain on other employees and weaken their faith in your leadership. When problems arise, meet them head on and have “the talk”, because no matter how difficult it seems at the time, it will make things easier for the road ahead.
Not knowing when to be “Hands On”.
Many leaders worry so much about being a micromanager that they end up being too “hands off.” But neither option is a good idea. As a leader, you should know whether to move closer to what your team is doing. If you have seasoned employees, you know you can probably give them their space. But if your team is young or your project is new, things might need closer supervision. Being “hands on” isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Good leaders know that each situation is different.
Taking yourself too seriously.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, if you can’t take some friendly teasing, or if when you hear laughter, you assume it’s all about you, you’ll rapidly distance yourself from others and begin to feel insecure – for no good reason. Your people aren’t “out to get you”! You need to learn to trust them – and even to let them occasionally poke a little fun at you. Leadership is hard. It’s stressful. It demands long hours and intense concentration, but it also allows you to form deep, empathetic relationships with those you lead. So why not have as much fun as possible while you’re doing it?