The Most Common (But Least Obvious) Leadership Mistakes Ever
Don’t get me wrong, everyone makes a leadership mistake. Several, and ongoing, probably. There are really obvious ones – like discriminating, bullying, ‘favouriting’ or going on a power trip – which we hope we don’t need to mention, but then, there are also some things that might not be so obvious. Especially if you’re a new manager.
So, we’ve collated a few top tips to help you navigate what can be a minefield of faux pas for an emerging leader.
#1 Accept you won’t suddenly become a ‘leader’ at once – build, and earn, your position gradually
As a new manager, you must be at least prepared to face resistance – even if you’re lucky enough to command the respect of your peers already. We all know some people don’t like change, and sceptical as some people are of authority, combining the two things – change and authority, can result in a rough induction for a new manager. As a new leader, understanding the reasoning behind this is essential. Take time to observe your team, assess your team and how they perform, interact with co-employees and how they react to you. Begin to create a view on what needs to be changed and how you are going to go about doing it, and regularly bounce these ideas off your line manager or mentor before preparing to implement them.
#2 Don’t be the bull in the china shop – stop, think, and then, act
As new manager, ensuring you do not make poorly considered decisions and judgements in public view is essential, as is gradually assuring your team of your capability through mitigating rookie errors and driving gradual change. Don’t just rush in and try to change everything – even if you’re sure you know exactly what the issue is. Take your time to gather the information to make sure that your assumption is the right one, and then carefully plan a course of action. You might find, once you take a bigger picture view there are actually other factors complicating the situation that mean your need to think differently, seek counsel or engage others in your new strategy.
#3 Don’t forget leadership is a people business – understand the motivators of the people you are managing
It might not surprise you that one of the biggest disconnects between new leaders and their teams is a perceived insensitivity to other’s needs. Take time to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t judge, engage. Meeting once a week over a period of a few months will not only build stronger connections and bonds but will reveal more and more about your team’s fears, passions and goals. Undoubtedly, you’ll find that different team members have varied career objectives, and that actually, they enjoy different things about their day-to-day jobs. Finding this out takes time, but utilising it to align their key strengths with your team structure, and your team vision, is crucial to motivating and retaining an engaged, and productive, workforce.
#4 Don’t go it alone – you need support
Although you might be keen to prove yourself on your own input, consider what you can gain from others. Working with official and unofficial mentors is an important part of any manager’s development, and the more support you can utilise the better. Setting up a regular feedback session is critical to successfully developing as an effective manager. It might feel like you’re being judged, but actually, it’ll be the best learning experience you can get. Additionally, seek holistic feedback from your team on working practices, environment and their development goals, to help you refine your leadership agenda.
Above everything else, don’t lose your ‘self’ in the process of becoming a leader. Remember that authenticity, consistency, transparency and humility is key to great leadership – be true to yourself, and the rest will follow.
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