5 Common Leadership Mistakes (and the best ways to address them)

5 Common Leadership Mistakes (and the best ways to address them)


There are a few widely-used proverbs relating to people making mistakes – to err is human, nobody’s perfect, and so on. These proverbs, by their very nature, apply to everyone – even the best of leaders and managers. This list contains what I see as a few of the common mistakes made by people in leadership positions both in business and in life – and how you can avoid them.

1. Forgetting Your Team

Managers and executives often have a long list of action items that need to be completed – there is great responsibility associated with a leadership role. It’s easy to understand how some managers may get caught up in projects or meetings and forget about their staff – but in a managerial role, your people must be your priority. If, as a manager, you’re not available to your staff, then you are most likely not getting the best from the people who answer to you. Take the time to support and guide your team.

2. Misunderstanding Motivation

Leaders tend to assume that staff and team members are motivated solely by money. It’s not an unfair assumption to make – but it’s likely that there is more that motivates a team than just their salary. Get to know your team, and openly discuss what opportunities may be available for them. Are flexible working hours a feasible option in your business? Would they be looking to undertake further education? Maybe they’d like some extra responsibility or a new project where they have the opportunity to ‘put their stamp’ on an organisation? There are many possibilities – a good manager will try to work with their staff to find each team member a purpose.

3. Not Delegating

Delegating is defined as “to entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself.” For many managers, however, the concept of delegation is one that is known but not utilised. It can be hard for managers to trust their team and know that a job or required action will be completed correctly, but without delegation, your team can’t learn and you won’t have the time allocated to complete crucial managerial obligations. Not delegating also results in staff being under-developed – which is bad for business. It’s important to share the load wherever possible.

4. Avoiding Difficult Tasks

When stressed or busy, it is easy for anyone, not just managers, to neglect tasks that seem too difficult and focus on those outcomes that are easily achieved. However, this is damaging both to the development of a business and to a manager’s professional development. Make the time to tackle a problem – and if it’s something that you, as a leader, feel you cannot do, take a lesson from the point above and delegate the task to someone who can complete it and complete it well. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make key decisions – and that can’t be done if you’re avoiding the things that make you uncomfortable or afraid.

5. Circumventing Creativity

Leaders and managers need to be able to lead with ideas. The best CEOs and executives are not those who ride on the proverbial coattails of the so-called ‘ideas people’, but are the ideas people themselves. Avoid the phrase “I’m not creative”, and learn to collaborate with your team and build on what you know. Your business will be better for it, and your team will respect both your ideas and your willingness to get involved and help lead the decision making process instead of just being the person who approves a new idea long after its workshop phase.

What Do You Think?

What do you consider to be the worst mistake a leader can make, and how would you address it? Do you notice these leadership mistakes and find yourself aspiring to manage differently? What is your go-to piece of leadership advice? Let us know what you think!

This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Mindtools, Business News Daily, Accelerated Growth and Michael Hyatt.

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