Being a good leader isn’t easy. Whether you have climbed the ladder and become a leader or started a business and become a leader you will find that there are a number of common traps that you’re in danger of falling into.
If you want to be a successful leader, avoid the following 10 mistakes.
1. Not listening to views and opinions of others
Good leaders accept that they don’t always know best and value the ideas of their team. Good leaders also know that not everything is black and white – its not their view or someone else’s view it can be an amalgamation of many views that’s best.
Everyone sees things in different ways and we all have our strengths, so make the most of what your people have to offer and don’t try to dictate everything yourself.
Try to take time to listen to others, engage with them and show that you value their opinion. You may not always agree, or act on their idea but you should acknowledge them and create a working atmosphere where people feel confident expressing their opinions. Ultimately, you may be making the final decisions but a few ideas along the way may help you to make better decisions.
2. Not being open to change
It’s all too easy to get comfortable with the systems and procedures you have in place, but there is always room for improvement and change is inevitable. The worst words in business and leadership are “we have always done it that way”. If you want to increase efficiency and productivity in your team changes will have to be made, especially with so much new technology emerging all the time.
3. Being unapproachable
Good leaders make their team feel like they can talk to them about any issues they are having. Good leaders share empathy with their staff. Your people should feel comfortable asking you for advice and being honest with you if they are struggling. While they shouldn’t be bothering you with every tiny problem, they should know that your door is always open. Also, on the flipside, a good leader understands their own feelings – their own emotional intelligence.
4. Neglecting the details
As a good leader, you’ll be driving your team to achieve key goals and to see the bigger picture. However, while you may have set some big goals, it’s important to remember that these goals will only be achieved by an accumulation of small projects and successes.
Ensure that you don’t lose sight of the smaller day-to-day tasks and procedures that are taking place. If you have a good understanding of what is happening at every level in your organisation you will be able to better spot when things aren’t working as well as they should be.
Be warned though, this is a delicate balancing act. Too much involvement in the day to day tasks will lead to issues for you – time management being one of the largest, and issues for your staff – feelings of no empowerment and trust – see point 6.
5. Not recognising individual successes
Praise and recognition give the people in your team a big motivation boost. Keep your eye on what’s happening and if someone achieves something great, recognise them for it. A simple ‘good job on that project’ will make them feel good and if you can offer an additional bonus or perk this will only motivate them to give their all going forward. It’s also important to recognise team success to help build cohesion and team work. And finally, its also just as important to recognise and celebrate your own successes. You may not have a boss above you who will identify these successes, like your staff do, so please find time to identify and celebrate your own successes.
6. Being a micromanager
If you try to control and dictate every little thing that is happening, your team will become frustrated and feel that you don’t trust them to do their jobs. While you should check in with your team and be aware of what is happening, you don’t need to obsess over details and get involved in everything.
7. Being too personal or impersonal
It’s good for them to know a little bit about your life, what you’re interested in and your family, but stay professional and don’t overshare with your team. It’s important to strike a balance between connecting with your colleagues and being approachable whilst maintaining their respect. However, that’s not to say that its not important to have an outlet for your own difficulties. Remember the old saying a problem shared is a problem halved. Looking for a mentor or coach that you can share these difficult situations with can really help your leadership development.
8. Not admitting when you’re wrong
We all make mistakes from time to time or make a bad decision and there’s nothing worse than a leader who can’t admit their mistakes. You will earn a lot more respect by acknowledging your errors and moving forward than if you try to shift the blame or deny any fault.
9. Not communicating honestly with your team
If there are important things happening in your business then please don’t keep your team in the dark. There are plenty of ways to keep people in the loop (meetings, emails, etc) so keep your communication as open as possible. From time to time there will be difficult, personal or commercially sensitive topics that you may not want to or may not be able to broadcast but aim to be as open and honest as you can be.
10. Being afraid to let people go
Getting rid of someone is never a nice task, but if there is a negative under-performer in your team it will be better for everyone if you look to let them go. It is likely to be a difficult conversation and please remember the legal implications, but remember they are taking the place of someone who could be adding a lot of value to your team.
If you go down all the right channels and make an effort to help your employee improve but they still aren’t getting anywhere, it’s time for them to move on.
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