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The 20 worst leadership mistakes you can make

Do you consider yourself to be a good leader? You might want to hold up that confident answer of yours.  A recent Gallup survey  found that nearly half of all employees have quit in order to leave a bad boss. Unhappy workers don’t just quit and take their problems with them, either. They poison other workers, make managers unhappy as well, and they lead to lower productivity and customer satisfaction. Make sure you’re avoiding the following leadership mistakes:

  • Micro-managing and never delegating: yes, others can do the work as well as you, and they’re paid to do so, so let them figure it out and complete it.
  • Talking over people and not listening: the team is there to provide input. Here are some tips on listening and providing direction.
  • Rewarding the people you like with the best assignments, rather than the people who will do the best work.
  • Withholding information about the company: this creates an atmosphere of fear. Unless it’s a rumor or certain financials or trade secrets, you can probably share most information.
  • Ordering people to work the way management wants, without explanations or sharing the vision or rationale behind the change: be transparent so everyone knows the direction the organization is headed.
  • Not following the golden rule: picture yourself in your reports’ shoes.
  • Providing non-constructive feedback: simply criticizing only causes harm in the form of damaged morale.
  • Putting down employees: whether you do it in front of them or behind their backs, it only shows others your weaknesses.
  • Being vague or frequently changing priorities: employees need to know what’s expected of them, so they are reassured and can actually deliver the work you need to be completed.
  • Acting as if employees are lucky to have jobs: regardless of the unemployment rate, human capital is one of the most important differentiators in the economy, and many organizations are actually having trouble recruiting and retaining top talent.
  • Not supporting employees or backing them up to others in the organization: your team needs to know that you support their work–which in the end, is your work.
  • Not setting an example with work habits: do you ask employees to arrive on time while you’re late on a daily basis? Do you work from home but don’t ever let them?
  • Treating employees as if they do not have the intent to do great work or hold responsibility: assume that everyone intends to do their best, not the worst.
  • Only attending meetings with your higher-ups: you need to have frequent meetings with your team, which should be your priority.
  • Thinking that achievements were because of you and failing to recognize that the team did it.
  • Not addressing complaints from employees or disciplining where necessary: when someone is bold enough to complain about a bully on your team that’s limiting productivity, you shouldn’t dismiss the concern.
  • Reveling in the perks of the office– a car with driver, private aircraft use, front parking space etc.
  • Serving on non-profit boards with directives and business examples as a “CEO” rather than a contributing board member who is no better than the others.
  • Staying in your office: you need to leave your office and walk around to see people. Here are some tips for MBWA or Management By Walking Around.
  • Always being right or having an excuse: it’s okay to be wrong and say so.

Consider the messages that any of these mistakes, regardless of the severity, send to your team. No one’s perfect, but leaders need to try their best to avoid these mistakes, as motivating a team is challenging enough, even when you’re not making many of the above mistakes.

To tell how you’re really doing as a leader, an objective look can help. Take a 360 degree survey, which asks your peers, reports, and superiors how you’re doing. Follow this feedback with coaching or development to improve any problem areas, and develop your team to get everyone working together better. Leadership development training will further address management concerns and lead to a happier, engaged and productive workforce delivering on your organization’s mission.

Post by Jeanne Ward.


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