Being a good leader is way easier said than done. Sometimes it seems like everyone and their next-door neighbor wants to be a leader, but not everyone has leadership qualities. Fortunately, leading is a skill that can be learned. And the most common way to gain experience is by making leadership mistakes.
But a less painful way to learn is from other people’s mistakes. So, with that spirit in mind, here are a few of the most common leadership mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Being Halted by Fear
A small amount of fear is a healthy thing, making you stop and think before making any decisions. There are plenty of things in life we should be afraid of, like great white sharks and middle schoolers with Instagram accounts. But when fear paralyzes you, it’s a huge problem.
The Solution: First, recognize that you’re fearful and your concerns may be well-founded. A decision could cause you to lose money, customers or team members, but you can’t let that possibility drive you.
The best way to kick the fear right where it hurts most is to come up with a system to deal with it. Setting a deadline, gathering facts and options, and working out the worst-case scenario are just a few examples of the steps you can take to get over that fear. And remember, you’ve been promoted to a leadership position for a reason—you have what it takes, and your team needs you, so don’t back down now!
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is hiring too quickly just because they really need someone. It does nothing but create more problems down the road, and you’ll probably be going through the same hiring process a few months later when you have to fire that crazy person.
The Solution: Take whatever time is needed to find the perfect person for the job. They should be a hard worker who has integrity and is on board with your company’s mission (not to mention whatever skills are needed for the position), and sometimes it can take a while to find someone like that.
3. Being an Oppressor
I know, I know. This company is your baby, and no one can treat it as well as you—but in order for it to grow, you have to let go. Remember those people you put through that rigorous interview process? You have to trust that they know what they’re doing and have the skills to do a great job. (Otherwise, why did you hire them?)
An example we have heard of is where someone who worked for a leader a long time ago who was such a controlling dictator that he made the whole environment fearful, stressful and miserable. The person loved the work itself, but didn’t want to go into the office, and couldn’t even lead their own team well because of their boss. Don’t be that guy!
The Solution: If you trust your team members, step back and let them succeed, no matter how nervous it makes you. Of course, when someone first joins the team, they should be trained and observed until they prove their competency and integrity. But once they’ve proven it, stop micromanaging them, or they will never perform to their full potential—and they may even quit out of frustration.