10 Common Leadership and Management Mistakes

It is a fact of life that everyone makes mistakes at one time or another. Oftentimes, the mistakes are great learning experiences. As Oscar Wilde put it in his inimitable way, “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” However, some mistakes can be very costly for the individual concerned and the organization that he works for. So, it pays to know in advance what sort of mistakes one is likely to commit so that one can take steps to ward off those very mistakes. It turns out there are 10 common mistakes that leaders and managers are prone to and here they are.

1. Not Making Time for Your Team: You must take time to bond with the members of your team. You need not be their divorce counselor or therapist, but it certainly pays to know what’s happening in their working and personal lives. Knowing some of their personal details will make you a better manager, who is more responsive to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events.

2. Not Providing Feedback: Failing to provide feedback is perhaps the most common mistake that leaders make. Without feedback, the employees are left in the dark about their performance and thereby miss out on the chance to improve their work. Do not wait for the performance review to let the employees know how they are doing; give regular feedback.

3. Failing to Communicate Effectively: Information is power. The more quickly the employees get complete and accurate information, the better they can discharge their duties. Although some information may be confidential, by and large, you should aim to share what you know with your team members and employees. If necessary, hold weekly meetings.

4. Being Too Friendly: As a leader you have to make tough decisions regarding people. If you are too friendly it may come in the way of making those decisions. However, it does not mean that you should not be friendly and approachable. You must use your judgment to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss.

5. Lack of Vision and Goals: If you do not provide a vision and do not set clear goals, your employees will muddle through their work. They won’t be as productive if they do not know what is expected of them. They also cannot prioritize their work. Hence you should spell out your vision and set clear goals that others can follow.

6. Misunderstanding Motivation: People are motivated to work by many other things than just money. It would be a mistake to assume that monetary rewards are what drive your employees. They could be looking for other things besides money, such as greater work/life balance, a sense of achievement, extra responsibility, a sense of camaraderie, or praise.

7. Not Delegating: No leader or manager can do everything by himself. Trying to do so will only lead to stress and burnout while the work piles up. Instead, you should learn to delegate some of the work to subordinates, which allows them to learn and grow. This will also allow you to focus properly on the big picture.

8. Failure to be a Good Role Model: Actions speak louder than words. If you are not “walking the talk”, the junior people will imitate your behavior and the results will be disastrous. If there is a rule in the organization, make sure you set an example for others by following it yourself scrupulously.

9. Not Driving Change: If you do not keep pace with change, your organization will fall behind the competition. Not only should you embrace change, but you should be proactive and ring in the necessary changes long before you are forced to do so by circumstances.

10. Not Prioritizing Creativity: It would be a mistake to continue to do “business as usual”. These are highly competitive times and unless you continually “think out of the box” you are likely to be put out of business. So, become creative in all your endeavours.

D. Samarender Reddy

Holds degrees in Medicine (MBBS) and Economics (MA, The Johns Hopkins University). Certified programmer. An avid reader. Worked in various capacities as a medical writer, copywriter, copyeditor, software programmer, newspaper columnist, and content writer.

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