How to avoid critical leadership errors

According to Harvard Business Review, two out of five new CEOs fail within their first 18 months on the job and much of this is due to poor management techniques and misguided leadership styles. While everyone can learn from their own mistakes, learning from other people’s can save you an awful lot of time and bother. Failure helps you grow, and someone else’s mistakes can help you avoid them in the first place.

There are three critical leadership mistakes that we see even the most illustrious leaders making time and time again. The good news is that every transgression can be rectified and every behaviour adapted to bring about better results.

1. Lalala-Listening

You’re the boss, right? So you know best. Few would admit to such a course statement, but countless leaders harbour the secret belief that they got where they are because they are superior to the people on their team. This is simply not the case. Robert Nardelli, ousted CEO of Home Depot, has been named by CNMB as the ‘worst CEO of all time.’ He got the reputation by being autocratic and failing to listen to others within the company. Towards the end of his tenure, he would only allow shareholders to speak for one minute each. He didn’t last long after that. In order to be a successful leader, you have to learn to listen.

Spend time with your team in order to develop relationships with them where they feel comfortable raising issues. Your task then is not only to listen to the words people say, but to create opportunities in which they can talk, to actively listen, and to seek out dissenting voices too. Surrounding yourself with ‘yes’ men is a rookie mistake.

2. Leading By Numbers

Companies have to grow, successes have to be charted, and quite simply, you need to see results, but thinking of business as nothing but a numbers game is the surest way to lose it.

There are two number-traps CEOs fall into:

● Using profit as only gauge of success

● Assuming only financial reward works

Both are foolish. Even in business, there are things more important than money: usefulness is a good example. What is the point of the company? What is its vision? The second number-error can then be avoided by communicating this vision to employees and by recognising that while no-one is ever going to pass up a bonus, additional rewards such as time-flexibility, respect, and career guidance can make for a more motivated, cohesive, and efficacious workforce.
3. Seeing Change As The Enemy

Leading is hard especially when you don’t know where to go. Many leaders talk a good game when it comes to flexibility, but in practice they stubbornly adhere to what worked for them in the past. It’s like they’re afraid of change because it shows their fallibility. However, fallibility and vulnerability is as important to your growth as failure. It’s when you drop the superhero act and be genuine that real communication takes place and significant strides in new directions can be made. Accepting change means saying that you don’t know everything yet – but you’re working on it.

Companies with awesome products and services can find themselves failing when leaders fail to communicate effectively the vision of the company and lose their respect and trust in employees. A good leader has to turn up and be human. By heeding this warning of the leadership pitfalls to avoid and by cultivating an attitude of self-reflection, you can speed up your own development and deliver on your promises to lead your team smartly, courageously, and effectively.

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