Every leader wants to do the best job they can, but leadership is a learned skilled. We all will make mistakes, especially early in our career or when we are in new territory. Aside from the obvious things that you should avoid, there are more nuanced characteristics that can make a huge impact on your success as a leader. If you want to learn how to be a better leader, start by avoiding these five mistakes leaders commonly make:
- Not providing enough, or any, feedback
Part of the value that a leader provides is making the team and its members better. As a leader, you will probably be the most knowledgeable or experienced person on the team, either in terms of the length of your career, involvement with the business or subject matter. Even if you’re more junior than members of your team, you are still the one charged with the continuous improvement of the team and the one responsible for providing support and insight. Too many bosses fear being seen as pushy, negative or demoralizing the team by providing feedback, however, when feedback is delivered in a positive way most employees are receptive and are actually looking for your opinion.
- Poor communication
Being a leader, even when you’re the CEO, can mean that you’re in the middle. You can be in the middle by being the connection point between your team and a senior leader, the board or clients. Being the connection point means that you are also the one responsible for communicating back and forth for all parties, so staying silent isn’t an option. If you want some additional tips on how to improve your workplace communication you can read my blog on the topic.
- Not realizing the strengths of everyone on your team
People are hardwired, every single one of us has our own unique wiring and should be utilized in a way that best realizes our strengths. When dividing up the work of the team don’t organize work “the way it has always been done” — organize it in the way that makes the most sense based on each person’s skills and hardwiring.
- Trying to do everything yourself
If you don’t know how to delegate, now is the time to learn. You aren’t doing anyone on your team any favors by being burned out and stressed. Even if you feel like you can tackle it all and it isn’t hurting you, your lack of delegation will actually hurt the team. The only way to build new leadership skills and bench strength on your team is by allowing your employees a chance to learn.
- Not prioritizing time with your team
If you are always cancelling or rescheduling meetings with your team you will give the appearance that your team is never the top priority. You should schedule regular meetings with the direct reporting members of your team and then less frequent skip-level meetings with other members on the team. The only way for you to know how your team is really doing is by making the time to talk with them. If you don’t make yourself available and have an open door policy it is likely that you will hear about mistakes and problems when it is already too late.