You likely have ideas about what a strong leader does to succeed. They act decisively, listen, and take responsibility for their actions. Yet, you can learn so much about what it takes to be a great leader by observing the bad habits that plague many leaders. Here are four common mistakes to avoid if you want to become a better leader for your team.
Blame Yourself (or Others) for Every Failure
One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to accept that failure is a natural part of the process. Instead of learning from failure, we often blame ourselves or other people. But if you blame yourself for every misstep that happens, you are never going to succeed; you will just end up feeling sorry for yourself. Blaming others is also a losing proposition, as it instills negativity and resentment in those around you. It’s much easier to motivate your team if you focus on successes and use failures as a learning opportunity.
Become Too Skeptical
While a healthy amount of skepticism can help you challenge the status quo and think outside the box, becoming too skeptical can be dangerous. As a leader, you have to be able to listen to opinions of your team members and give your team a voice. But this won’t work if you’re constantly doubting people and allowing yourself to become driven by suspicion. It isn’t healthy to dismiss every person who disagrees with you; no leader is infallible. Your way might not be the best way, so you have to keep an open mind.
Make New Hires Pay for Mistakes of the Past
In some cases, you have to hire a new employee because you had to fire somebody else. What you can’t do is punish your new employees for the mistakes of the people who came before them. You don’t want them to feel like you are assuming they will make the same mistakes their predecessors made, and you don’t want them to feel like they’re cleaning up other people’s messes. When this happens, it shows that you don’t trust or value the new employee that you just hired.
Have a One-Size-Fits-All Rule
As leaders, we often try to mimic other industry leaders whom we admire. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it is important to keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Each of your employees may have different expectations or needs. You need to be flexible because what motivates one employee may have no effect on another employee. Sometimes, you have to experiment to figure out a leadership strategy that works for the whole team.
When we try to improve our leadership skills, we tend to focus on what great leadership looks like. Sometimes, it is more helpful to consider what bad leaders do. As much as people remember the leaders that inspired them, horrible leadership experiences stick with you even more. To really become the best leader you can, you need to know what mistakes to avoid.
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