5 common mistakes made by business leaders
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” - John F. Kennedy
Leaders aren’t born, they are made; and one thing all great business leaders have in common is that they made mistakes on their journey to the top. It is often said that we learn more in defeat than we do in victory, and nowhere is the adage more applicable than in the world of business. Successful leaders are often lauded for making the right choices, but they achieve these feats by learning from previous wrong choices.
Rather than learn these lessons the hard way, we’ve highlighted 5 common mistakes made by business leaders and solutions to help you on your own leadership journey.
Failure to define the company's strategy.
If the leader of an organisation cannot define the company’s strategy, how do they expect their team to follow? When a leader doesn’t set clear goals employees can't be productive because they have no idea what they're working towards, or ultimately what their work means.
Solution: Avoid this mistake by frequently reinforcing organisational values and aligning goals to the mission of the organisation as a whole. Setting long-term goals for your team using a chart to identify where your team is going will also demonstrate clear purpose and strategy.
Not leading by example.
Blowing off meetings, coming in late, not responding to important emails, making personal calls…If one of your team members did this how would you feel? Being a leader means you need to be a role model and perform in a manner you would like to see.
Solution: A boss says “Go!”- A leader says “Let’s go!” If you want to change your organisation’s behaviour, start with your own. If there is a project that requires staff to stay late, why not lead by example and stay late too?
Trust is key in any and every business environment. As a leader it is important to delegate jobs to your employees to avoid becoming stressed and being bogged down in day-to-day tasks. Without delegation, it is hard for any leader to focus on the wider issues and steer the corporate ship in the right direction.
Solution: Trust your team. There is a good reason why you hired them; you saw their potential and knew they would fit in your organisation. Let them do their job and give yourself the time to focus on the larger picture and concentrate on being the best leader you can be.
Being too friendly.
Unfortunately being liked is a luxury business leaders can’t afford if they want to effectively manage their organisation or team. Staff may be on the wrong side of a leader’s tough decisions in the future and some people may be tempted to take advantage of kind-nature.
Solution: Emphasise your authority from the outset and set clear boundaries so that team members know where they stand. Being a good leader doesn’t mean you can’t be approachable, but it is important to set a professional tone.
Inability to communicate.
We have all been guilty, at some point, of forgetting that communication is a two-way process, and leaders are no different. Being in charge means being used to relaying instruction and having ideas implemented. However, some leaders miss, ignore or overlook the great ideas their employees share with them.
Solution: Become an active listener and praise your employees for their enthusiasm and input. While you may not use all or any of their ideas, providing feedback will show that you value the opinions of your team and respect their input.
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