I’m in the business of helping leaders become extraordinary; better than the average or common version of leadership many of us have to tolerate in our organisations and communities. Along that journey from good to great my clients often find that they have been making seemingly small but profoundly important mistakes, that once corrected can make a remarkable difference to their leadership.
Here are ten more common mistakes.
1. Not letting go
Being in control is a part of leadership although you can easily overdo it. Over controlling, micromanaging, perfectionism and autocratic leadership are symptoms that you’re too hooked on control, which can lead to your team not being able to perform at their full potential. You become the bottleneck to them getting more done when you have to direct, decide and determine everything they do. If the job of leadership is to get things done with and through others, a lack of empowerment is a significant barrier to better leadership.
2. Being too nice
Some leaders on the other hand are addicted to harmony and getting along with others. Whilst fitting in and going along are part of what’s required in teamwork and organisational life, leaders also need to be able to pushback, argue, debate, speak candidly and take a stand, even if it creates some heat and discomfort with others. People who have an overriding desire to be liked and accepted produce anaemic and weak leadership. It’s paradoxical really. Whilst we expect people to fit in and comply, and it’s a hurdle requirement to get your first leadership job, we are more likely to admire, respect and wish for leaders who are prepared to challenge the status quo.
3. Protecting yourself
We struggle with inauthentic leadership because we know we are not seeing the real person, the genuine article with all its flaws and shortcomings. A carefully constructed impervious leadership facade that says “I have it all sorted; I have all the answers” is not believable because we know it’s not possible. We all have fears, doubts, insecurities and weaknesses and any attempt to hide them inevitably distances the leader from others, causing them to appear aloof or arrogant. When a leader protects themselves in the way they are saying that they don’t trust us. Who wants to follow a leader that doesn’t trust them?
4. Failure to motivate individually
Leadership is about releasing the energy and commitment of others towards the outcomes or goals that you’ve set. That means connecting their efforts to what motivates them, not what motivates you. If you don’t know a team member hopes, dreams and aspirations, or their fears, anxieties or concerns, you’re powerless to truly mobilise them and move them from where they are, towards where they need to be.