7 Major Leadership Mistakes You’re Making Right Now

by | Oct 11, 2017

Leadership mistakes to avoid

We all make leadership mistakes. Ask yourself, are you doing any of these things? Even better, ask your team.

Once upon a time, I was an HR consultant who was regularly invited into organizations to conduct 1×1 interviews with their employees. We’d talk about what was working, what wasn’t, and their suggestions for the future. Ultimately, I’d compile those results into a report for the senior leadership team.

Every report and debrief discussion had a Start-Stop-Continue section. Where do you think most leaders lingered the longest? Things they could Start doing to make immediate positive improvements were interesting, and most of them took the time to skim the Continue section. However, it was the Stop that gave them the most heartburn.

Often, they’d get defensive and tell me why the feedback was off base. Instead of taking it like a knife in the heart, I encouraged them to see it from the other side. What if this is what people see, feel and experience even if it’s not what they, the leaders, intended? Then what?

I also acknowledged that they brought me in not because they wanted accolades but because they wanted to improve as a leadership team and make meaningful, positive changes for team success and to create a great place to work.

Worth looking at: Leadership Assessment as self-awareness is your foundation for effectiveness as a leader

Here are seven leadership mistakes that came up over and over in organization after organization. Ask yourself, are you doing any of these things? Even better, ask your team.


Leadership mistakes

7 Common Leadership Mistakes to Avoid… Are You?

Waiting too long to help

It’s important to let people figure things out without micromanaging their efforts. Still, it’s one thing to let someone struggle and another to let them sink. It can be a fine line, but the best leaders jumped in and asked “How Can I Help?” before things became critical.

Speaking for the team

The higher up you are in the organization, the further you are from the front line. Instead of inviting managers, directors or others into meetings to represent their work and accurately discuss their challenges or solutions, some leaders like to be the only one to speak for the team. Is this you?

Doing it all – Declining help

We all know someone who thinks they’re the only one who can get things right. They have an exasperated look on their face when they tell you that it will just take too much time to get someone else up to speed. They sleep little, have high stress and are barely treading water. Not a strong foundation for strong leadership, is it?

Caring about image more than doing what’s right

There are people who worry more about how they’ll look than the impact they’ll make. It’s easy to go astray when image guides decision-making and not values. Here’s the deal, when you do the right thing, you do more than look good, you do good.

Never moving beyond their tiny inner circle

Most leaders have trusted advisors who are critical to their success. However, there are also inner circles of colleagues and direct reports who have the most say, get the most interesting work and are in the know while everyone else is left out in the cold. A closed-door inner circle brings resentment instead of a culture where everyone is part of creating the future.

Jumping on mistakes

Yelling, demeaning and condescending… three things that don’t belong in any workplace were all too common. Successes passed by without fanfare and every mistake shouted through the nearest megaphone. No feedback loop, no coaching, the teams were walking on eggshells, never taking big risks for fear that their mistakes would take center stage.

Standing apart

Leadership isn’t about entitlement or being better than the people who work for you. Often, when people described leaders who were standing apart, they were described as aloof, unaware and unsympathetic. They were above the team, not a part of it; swooping in to fix and then gone once again.

Not every individual leader in every organization was the culprit of all seven leadership mistakes. However, more often than not, everyone’s eye’s were open to the collective impact of the leadership team. After I delivered my findings and left the building, I’m sure some leaders threw the report in the trash and others used it as a springboard for change.

Change starts with one person… where do you need to start?


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Originally posted in breaktheframe.com 

Alli Polin Contributor
Alli Polin, CPCC, ACC, is a former senior executive with deep experience in leadership, change management, and organization development. Now a writer, coach, and speaker, she is driven to help people create a full life and achieve professional success. She has an award-winning blog, Break the Frame, writing on the intersection of life and leadership.
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