In this article, we’re looking at 10 of the most common leadership and management mistakes and highlighting what you can do to avoid them. If you can learn about these here, rather than through experience, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble!
However, making the same types of mistakes over and over again can be detrimental to your organization, as well as your career. Avoiding these common Leadership and Management Mistakes can help any manager be more effective and valuable to an organization.
1. Not Providing Feedback
Effective feedback, both positive and negative, is very helpful. Feedback is valuable information that will be used to make important decisions. Top performing companies are top-performing companies because they consistently search for ways to make their best even better. For top-performing companies ‘continuous improvement’ is not just a showy catchphrase.
It’s a true focus based on feedback from across the entire organization – customers, clients, employees, suppliers, vendors, and stakeholders. Top performing companies are not only good at accepting feedback, they deliberately ask for feedback. And they know that feedback is helpful only when it highlights weaknesses as well as strengths.
To avoid this mistake, learn how to provide regular feedback to your team.
2. Not Making Time for Your Team
When you’re a manager or leader, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you don’t make yourself available to your team.
Yes, you have projects that you need to deliver. But your people must come first – without you being available when they need you, your people won’t know what to do, and they won’t have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.
Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when “your door is always open” so that your people know when they can get your help.
Once you’re in a leadership or management role, your team should always come first – this is, at heart, what good leadership is all about!
3. Being Too “Hands-Off”
One of your team has just completed an important project. The problem is that he misunderstood the project’s specifications, and you didn’t stay in touch with him as he was working on it. Now, he’s completed the project in the wrong way, and you’re faced with explaining this to an angry client.
Leadership and Management Mistakes # 4. Being Too Friendly
Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get on with. However, you’ll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you’re too friendly with them.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize with your people. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss.
5. Failing to Define Goals
When your people don’t have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can’t be productive if they have no idea what they’re working for, or what their work means. They also can’t prioritize their workload effectively, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.
Avoid this mistake by learning how to set SMART goals for your team.
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Leadership and Management Mistakes # 6. Misunderstanding Motivation
Do you know what truly motivates your team? Here’s a hint: chances are, it’s not just money!
Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their team is only working for monetary reward. However, it’s unlikely that this will be the only thing that motivates them.
For example, people seeking a greater work/life balance might be motivated by telecommuting days or flexible working. Others will be motivated by factors such as achievement, extra responsibility, praise, or a sense of camaraderie.
7. Hurrying Recruitment
When your team has a large workload, it’s important to have enough people “on board” to cope with it. But filling a vacant role too quickly can be a disastrous mistake.
Hurrying recruitment can lead to recruiting the wrong people for your team: people who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. They might also require additional training, and slow down others on your team. With the wrong person, you’ll have wasted valuable time and resources if things don’t work out and they leave. What’s worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to “carry” the under-performer.
Leadership and Management Mistakes # 8. Not “Walking the Walk”
A leader is a role model. This means that your work ethic and attitude should set an example. Do not expect the team to stay late if you fail to do the same. Remember that you are under your team’s microscope. In case you feel that their behavior should be changed, begin with your own. They will act accordingly.
As a leader, you need to be a role model for your team. This means that if they need to stay late, you should also stay late to help them. Or, if your organization has a rule that no one eats at their desk, then set the example and head to the break room every day for lunch. The same goes for your attitude – if you’re negative some of the time, you can’t expect your people not to be negative.
So remember, your team is watching you all the time. If you want to shape their behavior, start with your own. They’ll follow suit.
9.Failing to define innovation
Innovation is different for every company and each person in it. As a leader, you need to define what it looks like to your organization and what obstacles might impede it, said Ford.
“While innovation needs to be fostered, clear expectations will prevent too much deviation from … activities proved to grow the business,” she added. “Helping your team stay focused on specific innovation initiatives will allow you to test ideas methodically, without spreading innovation efforts so thin they can’t be tested or [aren’t] effective.”
Additionally, it’s important to trust your employees with these processes. If you’re too involved, you might discourage their creativity.
10. Not Delegating
Some managers don’t delegate, because they feel that no-one apart from themselves can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around them, and as they become stressed and burned out.
Delegation does take a lot of effort up-front, and it can be hard to trust your team to do the work correctly. But unless you delegate tasks, you’re never going to have time to focus on the “broader-view” that most leaders and managers are responsible for. What’s more, you’ll fail to develop your people so that they can take the pressure off you.
Providing leadership means delegating tasks to others, rather than trying to do everything yourself. Leaders help their team members grow by giving them responsibilities. They plan for succession by developing managers who will one day replace them. And they surround themselves with smart and talented people who are capable of doing what is needed to achieve the team’s goals.
Failing to delegate is often listed as the No. 1 reason managers fail – and with good reason. It wastes time, resources, and talent. If you find yourself faced with a new assignment or project, ask yourself if one of your team members can do it. If so, delegate!
Leadership and Management Mistakes # 11. Misunderstanding Your Role
Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities are very different from those you had before.
However, it’s easy to forget that your job has changed and that you now have to use a different set of skills to be effective. This leads to you not doing what you’ve been hired to do – leading and managing.
We all make mistakes, and there are some mistakes that leaders and managers make in particular. These include not giving good feedback, being too “hands-off,” not delegating effectively, and misunderstanding your role.
It’s true that making a mistake can be a learning opportunity. But, taking the time to learn how to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become productive and successful, and highly respected by your team.
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