Avoiding A Leader’s Biggest Mistakes

Last week’s post introduced the three biggest mistakes leaders make; this week we examine how leaders can avoid making those mistakes.

To review, a leader’s biggest mistakes are inconsistent communication, lack of clear strategy and goals, poor accountability, and reactive vs. proactive efforts.

The impact of these mistakes is significant and unfortunate. Those include eroded trust, an “I win, you lose” environment in the team/organization, perceptions of unfairness, and less discretionary energy applied by employees to goals & tasks.

A leader’s role is to create a safe, inspiring workplace where team members are trusted, trust others, and apply their knowledge & skills to team and organization goals. Leaders destroy any opportunity for that desired workplace environment when these mistakes are made.

Three Steps to Avoid A Leader’s Biggest Mistakes

  1. Focus.
    A leader must constantly assess the quality of team members’ understanding of the team’s performance and values expectations. If team members don’t have clear understanding, it’s the leader’s responsibility to increase that understanding. The leader must proactively and consistently clarify the short-term & long term team strategy; communicate face to face with team members to increase dialog and understanding; align project, goals, and tasks to the declared strategy. Above all, leaders must hold themselves and others accountable for performance and values.
  2. Connect.
    All good things that happen in organizations are driven by healthy relationships. To connect to the humans who leaders are charged with inspiring, leaders must proactively manage team members’ heads, hearts and hands – an exclusive focus on output does not create healthy relationships. Leaders need to demonstrate care for team member development, motivation, and contribution. Leaders must create meaning and purpose for players and teams by linking their work to goals, strategies, and community benefits. Lastly, leaders need to leverage team member skills & creativity to take advantage of opportunities that arise.
  3. Serve.
    The leader’s role is to serve the needs of team members so they may serve the needs of their team and organization. Great bosses praise and encourage BOTH team member effort & contribution, daily. Leaders must multiply hands by delegating authority and responsibility to talented, committed team members. To truly serve, leaders must also remove hurdles to team member performance & citizenship wherever possible, as quickly as possible. Team members spot “stupid policies” and other performance hurdles quickly; leaders need to listen to learn what hurdles require leader attention. Where leaders demonstrate intolerance of hurdles like organizational politics, personality, or power, they inspire team members exponentially.

What are your suggestions for how leaders can avoid making these mistakes? What mistakes or impacts or avoidance techniques have I missed? Tell us in the comments section below.

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