11 Leadership Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Leadership is often seen as the ultimate achievement of success – recognition that your skills and abilities set you apart as one to be followed, not to follow.

The main issue with leadership is that many appointments are made in consideration to aspects other than the fundamental skills to build effective teams and to lead them, which should be the two sole considerations.

No one said leadership was easy, but avoiding these 11 leadership mistakes will certainly help to achieve greater success in the role.

Getting hooked on a title

A job title, in reality, means nothing. Leadership is not about basking in the glory of the position (and title) that has been bestowed upon you, but concentrating on the responsibilities that come with that title.

A leader acts as such long before they are ever recognised officially through a job title. And what does a job title effectively mean anyway? We work in an age where job roles (and titles) are fluid and more creative than ever.

“If you care more about what is says on your door than you do about what it reads in your list of responsibilities, then the job is definitely not for you,” warns Tracey Chamberlain, a business writer at Brit student and Writemyx.

Believing this is the culmination of your work

Yes, it’s true that many individuals who arrive in a position of leadership have worked extremely hard to get there, suffering along the way. It is somewhat inevitable, therefore, that finally settling into the hot seat of a leadership role can be seen as the prize, rather than the true beginning of your legacy.

Effective leaders see their appointment as the end of one journey, and the start of another. If it viewed as the reward for what has come before, then resting on your laurels and a sense of entitlement will start to settle in, rendering your tenure as a leader effectively useless before it has truly begun.

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Taking the credit, not the blame

A frequently cited employee disgruntlement is how their manager is the first to take the credit for a joint success, yet moves the blame down the ladder when things don’t go according to plan. This is exactly the opposite of the way a good leader should operate.

Effective leaders apportion credit where it is due, which fosters morale and a team ethos. Similarly, when a mistake is made, a leader must face up to the ultimate responsibility for that, as the leader. That shields team members from finger-pointing, and allows them to get on with the task at hand.

Changing your habits, taking your foot off the gas

If you have been appointed as a leader, the chances are you were doing something right, so why change the way you work now (other than adapting to the role)? Now is not the time to wind down, it is the time to ramp up your efforts, and lead through your actions, inspiring your team with hard work and commitment.

“A leader who fails to pull his or her weight is immediately recognised by employees as a fraud. In fact, a leader must do more just to be considered equal in efforts,” cautions Bill Worzens, a business blogger at Australia2write and Next coursework.

Not forgetting slights

Becoming a leader doesn’t mean it’s time to exact revenge. Successful leaders through the centuries have been those who forgave their enemies, showing magnanimity and benevolence to those defeated in battle. OK, so this is not a medieval battlefield, but the analogy still rings true.

Becoming a leader is a time to enact a culture that befits success, meaning inclusion, fairness, and a clean slate to everyone. Having a chip on your shoulder is a terrible place to start from.

Recruiting poorly

Being a leader means shaping an effective team. To do that, recruitment will be required, and doing so timely and effectively will shape your tenure as a leader.

Yes, you need experts in their relevant fields, but what is even more important is the team dynamic: skills can be learnt but personalities cannot be changed, so ensure you are hiring towards a culture of individuals who can work together, and for you.

leadership mistakes

Image: Unsplash

Not delegating, but harbouring control

Many people are guilty of using a position of leadership as a tool to wield ultimate control in decision-making, feeling responsible for every action and considering themselves integral to every event within their sphere of control.

Effective leaders recognise the folly in this approach. Once you have built a team you can trust, delegating becomes easy. It empowers your staff and allows you the opportunity to focus on the big picture, not get bogged down in micromanaging.

Failing to understand what motivates

People are motivated by many things: effective leaders recognise this and respond to individuals in ways that they will respond to. And that does not mean just money.

Motivational factors include, but are not limited to, feedback, validation, inclusivity, learning and development opportunities, empathy and rewarding good work. Understand what motivates your staff individually and you will find an easier journey to success.

Not making objectives clear

Staff respond when they know exactly what they have to do: failing to clarify the tasks at hand, and the bigger picture, means employees work in a perennial state of confusion, and it also stunts their ability to grow in their role as they are unaware of the direction they need to move in.

This all boils down to effective communication, which is integral to every level and every role within an organisation. Don’t let poor communication and objective-setting mar your legacy as a boss.

Not giving feedback

Speaking of communication, do you provide regular and constructive feedback to your team? If not, how can you expect your staff members to improve? Feedback, both positive and negative, is the lifeblood of growing an effective team.

Encourage peer-to-peer feedback too, as well as bottom -up feedback – you have to be able to take it as well as dish it out!

Forming personal relationships with your team

Of course, it’s great if you get on well with your team, but forming close personal relationships is a step too far. Keep it professional, and understand where to draw boundaries.

It’s not about being liked (or disliked): being a leader is about making the tough decisions when you need to, but always fairly. It is much more important that your team respect you than like you, but obviously it’s great if they can do both.

In Summary

The 11 leadership mistakes we covered above, are;

  • Getting hooked on a title
  • Believing this is the culmination of your work
  • Taking the credit, not the blame
  • Changing your habits, taking your foot off the gas
  • Not forgetting slights
  • Recruiting poorly
  • Not delegating, but harbouring control
  • Failing to understand what motivates
  • Not making objectives clear
  • Not giving feedback
  • Forming personal relationships with your team

Avoiding these common pitfalls will help you on your journey to becoming a great leader. Do everything you can not to repeat these common leadership mistakes.


About the Author

Michael Dehoyos is a content marketer and editor at PhdKingdom and Academicbrits . He assists companies in their marketing strategy concepts, and contributes to numerous sites and publications, including OriginWritings, on the same subject.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q