10 Unforgivable Leadership Mistakes You Probably Make

“Nobody is perfect”, said Billy Wilder, quoting Joe E. Brown in the legendary film “Some like it hot”. Leaders are not perfect either, but it is in your hands to avoid these 10 leadership mistakes which you probably make without even realizing it:

1. Using the email for urgent matters

This is mistake number 1 and probably the most common of them all. Who has not fallen into the temptation of sending an email with the word “Urgent” as its subject and, of course, in capital letters?

Do not fall into that trap: the email is an excellent work tool but under no circumstances can it be the way of communicating urgent matters. If there is something which requires your immediate attention, solve it face to face or by any other means which guarantee a quick answer.

2. Using Whatsapp as a communication tool

It is very difficult to find someone who hasn’t got in their phones or at least know about the popular instant messaging app Whatsapp. However, this is no excuse for it to become your tool for discussing work issues, coordinating meetings, managing a team, prioritizing tasks or communicating internally. The answer is NO.

You may also like: Put technology on hold for effective communication in the workplace

3. Not standing up for the team

This is a serious mistake, and very often one which is very difficult to detect. Leadership is about being with the team in both good and bad times, but most of all a leader must support their collaborators when something is not working well. There are always going to be problems and the important thing is not to point the finger, but to find solutions. You will never find an exit if you have not previously stood up for your team.

4. Not knowing how to say “No”

Saying yes to everything is a sign of weakness. As a leader, you need to take risks and be aware that it is impossible to please everyone. Learning how to say “No” is essential to strengthen your leadership and crucial not to reduce your productivity (if you take more tasks than you can, you will only stress yourself and you won’t reach your goals).

5. Calling surprise meetings

Accept it: without an agenda with the goals, topics to deal with and participants, your meeting will be anything but productive. A common leadership mistake is to call surprise meetings, which are usually a waste of time for both your team and yourself. Forget it and attend only those meetings which are indispensable and help you improve your management. If you can’t tell which meetings we are talking about, take a look at our list of 10 situations in which meetings are a waste of time.

6. Running from change

The leader needs to be the driver of change. However, fear of the unknown makes us resistant to change by nature. The result is one of the worst leadership mistakes we can make: getting stuck as professionals and demotivating our whole team. To solve it, open your mind and reward brave attitudes and new proposals from your workers.

7. Not having a monitoring system

A leader is, primarily, a great team manager. To coordinate people, it is necessary to establish monitoring systems to check the state of each task or project. It is a very common mistake to be content with being informed by email or asking once in a while about this or that issue. Do not settle for the occasional summary from the department and create a structure that will help you coordinate and check whether goals are reached or not.

8. Not taking the time to think

Improving processes, correcting mistakes, identifying problems, solving conflicts, speeding up communication among team members, etc, are all tasks for the leader. To carry them out, it is necessary for you to take some time for reflection which many leaders don’t even consider; this is an obstacle in the way of implementing improvements. Do not make the same mistake.

9. Confusing delegating with giving orders

An unforgivable mistake any manager or leader can make is to confuse task delegation with giving orders. Delegating properly implies not only that we trust the other person to do the job, but we also trust their working methods, we respect previously set deadlines and, of course, we assume that the other person might make a mistake.

10. Not accepting mistakes

We said it at the beginning: “nobody is perfect”. Assuming we are wrong should be a motto for every leader, instead of one of the most common leadership mistakes. Furthermore, accepting your own mistakes will make you a much stronger and respected leader in your organization.

What other leadership mistakes do you think a leader must avoid?

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