Rather than adding to the noise, I wanted to share my thoughts on how leaders (and aspiring leaders) can shortcut their path to success by avoiding some of the most common mistakes current leaders make.
While the below is not an exhaustive list of everything I’ve learned over the years, it does represent what I believe to be the ten most critical things leaders should not be doing in order to lead their teams more effectively.
The Top 10 Mistakes Every Leader Makes
1. Solving Issues For Your Team
If you try to solve every issue your team or employees bring you, you create a culture of dependency. In essence, they will continue to rely on you instead of developing the necessary skills to solve the problems on their own, which ultimately limits their growth potential.
It’s a classic “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime,” situation.
2. Focusing on Short-term Results
When you focus solely on short-term results, you risk the long-term health of your team and organization. If you push the team too hard, try to get too much done, you will burn them out.
You also will create an environment where it’s different to see finish line or purpose behind your team’s day-to-day actions. If people don’t understand why they’re doing something, they’re less likely to do it with passion.
3. Assuming Your Team Sees the Big Picture
Building off of my last point, in a leadership role, it can be easy to think that if something has been communicated once, it’s understood.
This happens all too often when it comes to your team members understanding how they fit into the organization’s vision and long-term plan.
Stop assuming your employees understand this and make an effort to over-communicate just how important they and the work they do are to the organization.
It might be the most important thing you do for long-term retention of your key team members.
4. Using “I” and Me”
The language you use is powerful. When we use “us” and “we,” teams feel more like a team, rather than just a grouping of individuals.
Using “I” and “me” are clear ways of showing that you think you are above the team… Think of it even from a marketing standpoint; the more you talk about yourself, the less caring your brand appears. If you want to truly connect with someone, you need to make it about them, or even better, both of you as a unit.
5. Thinking You're the Smartest Person in the Room
If you walk into a situation with a closed mindset, you will never get the maximum potential out of your team.
Listen to the team and different perspectives, weigh options, and make great decisions!
6. Living in the “I Can Do It Faster” World
It’s true -- the first time you assign a task to one of your team members, especially one you’ve done a million times, you’ll most likely notice how much faster (and possibly better), you've done it.
However, much like solving issues for your team, if you do not give someone the space to learn how to execute, it not only hampers their growth and creates a vacuum that keeps leaders in “doer” mode.
7. Assuming People Know What's Expected of Them
If your organization is like IMPACT, your team members are likely handling countless tasks inside and outside of their job descriptions every single day. Sometimes this can blur the line between daily priorities and what’s ultimately expected of them in their role.
Stop assuming that they know and clearly document the three to five things they must OWN, not just do.
8. Deciding Without Thinking
If you are making decisions without giving yourself the space to think about the second and third order effects of it, you are setting yourself up for future issues.
Before making major decisions, make the time to think through the impacts to the organization and team that your move will have.
9. Pretending to Listen
If you are simply smiling and nodding, but not actively listening to your team, they will know it.
Take the time to truly listen and process what they are saying and how they are saying it. Make sure you understand what your folks are telling you, so you can actually lead them, not simply tell them what to do. Here’s how I do it.
10. Thinking You're Perfect
Guess what, you’re not -- and your team knows that.
If you lack the self-awareness to see your imperfections and be open about them, you will live your life on the struggle bus.
People want to be led by authentic people. Embrace your imperfections and those of your team.
Learn From My Mistakes
Here’s the deal - I am guilty of doing all 10 of these things at some point in my career.
I’ve seen the impact that each one can have on a team and organization and I want you to know that simply by being aware of these things, you have the ability to change the both for the better.
If you take one thing away from this it is simple - be aware that the actions you take or don’t take effect more people than you think.
Being a leader is a huge responsibility and the people you are leading need someone who is willing to put themselves second to those they lead.