I don’t believe any leader sets out to do a bad job. I’ve certainly never coached or mentored anyone who had that mentality. However, I have come across a few mistakes or traps that a leader can unwittingly fall in to which has the effect of sabotaging their leadership and the business and people they are responsible for.
Here are 6 leadership mistakes I’ve seen:-
Thinking they are god.
Or rather thinking that they have all the answers. Even falling for the illusion they are super important or even the most important person in the room. I’ve watched meetings that descended in to egoic fights for status rather than finding the best solution to the current issue. If you’re always the smartest person in the room something is going wrong.
No one is perfect and yet there can be the expectation that as a leader we’re supposed to be perfect all the time. We should always have the right answer, the correct emotion, the perfect question. We should always have it together. Now I’m not suggesting we air our thoughts and feelings willy nilly. Just remember that when we aim for perfection we stifle so much; our people, creativity, innovation and the future of the business we lead. Quality is more useful to us than perfection. Quality being fit for purpose. I’ve seen leaders have good ideas who waited for the perfect time, circumstances etc to launch and lost out to someone else who took imperfect action.
Business moves fast, speed is important, and we seem to pursue it at times over quality, ethics and even our health. Pace-setting has its place and it’s important to hit deadlines. However always pushing for more, keeping the pace high can lead to a whole host of problems. From poor decisions through to burning out staff or even ourselves. One of the common problems leaders face is mistaking burnout for change fatigue or just annoying resistance.
Feeling down for the count.
Every leader, no matter how good they are, will face situations that overwhelm them, knocks them for six and feeling powerless. It’s our resilience that allows us to bounce back from this and not let it linger and affect our future promise and potential. Having a coach and mentor who can help the leader come back from what’s going on so it doesn’t create problems in the future is even more critical now in the business world. (Check out this coaching solution)
Constantly problem solving and fire fighting.
When this happens I encourage the leader to step back, pause and look at what needs to shift within them. External pressures ask us to problem solve and put out fires. And sometimes you have to look at the fire and think let it burn, my resources are better invested elsewhere. Not all problems are worth solving.
Again, we’re creatures of habit and it sneaks up on us. One day we look and think ‘how did I get here’?. What happened that meant I went from vision and growth and expansion to struggles and conflict resolution and crisis. There will be problems and fires to extinguish and as a leader empower your staff so they can solve them and extinguish them. Oh, and for the advanced part, lead by example in showing them how to discern when to problem solve and fight a fire and when it’s more productive to focus your efforts elsewhere.
Losing your ‘self’.
We are bombarded by messages of who we should be, what we should do, how we should be doing it. It’s good to experiment, to try new things and see what works for us. And sometimes this can lead to disorientation, that means we lose touch with our deepest self, our values and integrity. More than ever leaders are being asked to know who they authentically are and be that. The rise to success asks us to make a choice, to achieve it by being authentic to our self or through putting aspects of us in a box. Knowing who you are not just what you can do is never a wasted investment. Yes, it takes time and money and the dividends are paid for the rest of your life and leadership.
How do you ensure you don’t make these mistakes – be aware of them, learn to manage them and get a great coach to help you grow beyond them and be able to lead others away from them too.
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