Top Ten Leadership Mistakes

Over several years of coaching leaders, I have observed many common mistakes they make. Some have clear signals, others are a bit more subtle. The following is a compiled list of those mistakes. Use it to assess how you are leading your team and be aware of how it affects your leadership abilities.

Failing to Act When Needed

It can happen in a moment’s notice. You see an inappropriate behavior and you let it go. Next time, ask your Direct to explain his/her reasoning for this behavior, then offer an alternative action.

Managing Not Leading

The leadership mistake here is acting as a custodian of your team versus a steward of them. By steward I mean living as though their behavior is also your behavior. What they do reflects on you. Are they presenting the image you want?

Driven By Looking Good To Your Superior

At times a leader will appease their superior versus presenting the required plan to get buy-in for a solution that resolves an important business issue. Looking good is preferred while accomplishing the intended goal is sacrificed. Ultimately, this behavior will not produce the results your supervisor wants so, remain true to that vision and confidently deliver the plan.

Buying a Direct’s Story Versus Asking Questions

We want to believe everything our Directs say. But as noted above, Directs will, at times, present issues in a way that makes them look good to you. When your instinct says I’m not sure this situation is really true, probe to get underneath the issue.

Fearing Confrontation

Ahh…but the solutions could lead to confrontations. OK…but you can’t lead without illustrating your concern and values. When you have a Direct who doesn’t see value in your direction/ethos, confront them constructively and find out why he/she disagrees.

Not Coaching the Right People

While a rising tide raises all ships, spending too much time on those that are sinking slows down the progress of others. Limit your development time with “C” Players. Rather, focus your time with “B” Players who can become “A’s.”

Allowing Bad Behaviors to Continue

Coaching can be done over time with willing participants. But, if a behavior exists that is truly detrimental to the team, it has to stop immediately.  Tell the Direct that his/her specific behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop now. After that, put a coaching plan together that has them move beyond this behavior.

No Follow-Up

Just as in consulting, a successful leader needs to be persistent, yet likable, to coach, lead and develop. Hold your teams accountable for what they said they would do and by when they said they would do it. People who fear this call it “micro-managing,” but I call it establishing standards.

Detaching From Directs

Never orphan a Direct. The more you collaborate with a Direct the quicker they develop.

Allowing Your Team’s Issues To Affect You

Keep your perspective. Notice certain trends and patterns in your leadership efforts. Hold to the objective evidence in front of you versus any loud voice you hear.

See if being aware of these common leadership mistakes helps you develop your skills, and those of your team. Let me know how it goes.



Training Leaders: Not Everyone is a Green Beret

Military commanders will tell you that not every soldier is cut out to be a green beret. In fact, very few are. But they will also say that for an action to be successful, the effort needs foot soldiers too. Over 25 years of leadership coaching has shown me how true this is in business. The key is finding, and developing, those individuals who can rise to the occasion and then giving them what they need to win. Critical to this effort is having enough troops who know the mission and can carry it out.

Actually it’s easy, if you systematize the process.

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