Common Mistakes Made by Leaders and How to Avoid Them

A Man Angry in a Workplace

Whether you made the step up to a leadership role yesterday or decades ago, there is always something new to learn about effective leadership.

Your leadership style should evolve according to the culture of your organization and the needs of your employees. However, no matter how experienced you may be, leaders make some common mistakes, even with years of experience under their belt.

Addressing these common leadership mistakes and working hard to cultivate a strong and effective leadership style benefits you and your employees and the performance of your team and organization.  

The Most Common Mistakes Made by Leaders


Many people will understand the urge to micromanage, but, unfortunately, some of us are particularly susceptible to micromanaging, especially when it comes to tasks or responsibilities we previously handled.

Yet all that micromanaging does is show your staff that you don’t trust their instincts or decision-making capabilities. Mistrust can lead to seriously undermotivated team members who will lose confidence in your relationship and in their ability to do their job well.

Under Management

It’s essential not to be too “hands-off,” either. There’s a reason that the saying “My door is always open” became popular in management-speak. Your team members should feel that you have confidence in them and that you’re there to support them when they need it, even for day-to-day matters.

The Wrong Level of Familiarity

Behaving overly cold and distant with your staff won’t do you any favors. While you might prefer keeping people at arm’s length, the result is that you won’t hear about any issues or challenges, as your team will be too nervous about approaching you.

Building personal, human relationships with your team members helps to create a sense of community among them. In addition, it allows them to be transparent about anything they need help with so that problems can be caught early.

Becoming overly familiar with your team could have negative results. Your staff should respect you. Excessively friendly relationships can make it hard to have difficult conversations about performance, making you a less effective leader.

Not Acknowledging Wins

Nobody likes or respects a manager who only acknowledges problems and performance issues. It creates tension and resentment among your team members and, ultimately, performance suffers even more.

Acknowledging the positives keeps your team motivated and lets them all know you appreciate their hard work. Of course, you can do this at an individual level, but celebrating wins as a team also keeps the team aligned and moving toward shared goals.

Hiring Too Quickly

The culture on your team or in your organization is a delicate balance. Adding the wrong people can significantly affect the atmosphere and culture. On the other hand, many managers see a gap in the team and want to fill it as quickly as possible.

It’s understandable since productivity and targets are going to be at the forefront of your mind. However, if you make the wrong hire, it can have serious negative consequences in the long run. That includes interpersonal difficulties due to a negative attitude or poor people skills. It can also mean an incomplete skills profile for the job at hand.

Tips for Improving Your Leadership Skills

Lead by Example

If you want to see a specific type of behavior from your team, make sure you’re exhibiting that trait or behavior yourself. If you don’t, you will appear hypocritical and lose the respect of your team.

Provide Feedback

Feedback is a critical component of good leadership. It should happen through formal review processes but also on the job. Feedback given at the moment is more likely to be taken on board, as it can be applied to a real-world example. This applies to both positive and constructive feedback.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Developing a team-based culture means aligning all your employees with common goals and objectives. Then it’s up to leaders to set those goals and communicate them clearly and frequently to the team.

Similarly, it’s your responsibility to set expectations around things like productivity and communication, both in how your team communicates with you and between each other.

Involve Employees in Change

Change within the team and the organization is inevitable. Sometimes it’s driven internally by a change in senior management and sometimes due to external market forces. Either way, that change can cause a lot of disruption. In addition, it can create a sense of uncertainty among your employees and make the transition challenging to implement.

Instead of dictating change to your employees, good leaders involve them in implementing change and, where possible, enable them to participate in the decision-making. When your team feels involved in the process, they’re more likely to embrace change, now and in the future.

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The Benefits of Leadership Keynotes from Tom Flick Leadership

Transformation is no longer a one-off exercise in business. Instead, constant ongoing change is quickly becoming a key characteristic of successful, competitive organizations. However, to ensure change is embraced and implemented in the right way, your organization’s leaders need to be skilled in leading through change and united in heading the charge.

My leadership keynote speeches on leading change inspire empowerment through transition while engaging the head and the heart. As a result, your leadership team will come away with a true sense of purpose and vision, fully equipped to lead effectively through change. Get in touch with our team to learn more about my keynote presentations or book your session today.