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7 common leadership mistakes you’re probably making

Caitlin McCormack 6 min read
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The role of a junior or first-time manager is considered dangerous territory for those who are promoted or drafted into this challenging role but provided with minimal support in coaching or training. There are many opportunities for misfires and mistakes as the rookie manager tries to grapple with the new challenge of being responsible for other people’s work.

While prior experience in any informal leadership role, like that of a project manager could be helpful, there’s a lot for a new manager to learn and execute in the early stages of this role. Here’s some insight into 7 of the most common mistakes new managers probably make early in their tenure.

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1. Lacking Humility

Holding a position of power could be good for the ego, but you shouldn’t let this position of power create some false sense of security in you. Your employees must understand that you are not above your shortcomings. As a leader, you shouldn’t be afraid of recognizing your failures. You will probably fall at some point in your career, so what matters is the ability to get back up and learn from the mistakes you made. When junior employees understand that failure is something natural, even for leaders, they will feel more confident and open-minded.

2. Thinking Emotionally

It is easy to allow your feelings about a specific situation influence your decision-making, and at times it is sensible to do so. In leadership, however, using emotions as a justification for the choices you make is bad practice. Your team will need to see the logic and facts backing up the choices you make for them to trust you. When you make decisions based on emotions, the chances are that the team might not understand the rationale behind the choice, and in most instances, justification might not exist. This could result in confusion, uncertainty about the validity of decisions or future road-map plans over time, and this could gradually eat away your effectiveness as a leader.

Making emotional moves could lead to the authorization of decisions without a proper understanding. The last thing you want is to make decisions just because you feel compelled to. As a leader, you might also find yourself making choices about things that are beyond your scope. Therefore, you should be sensible enough not to make a decision without consulting people with more experience in the area.

Common Leadership Mistakes

3. Taking on Unnecessary Work

Leaders are usually promoted or hired to their positions because they are aware of what should be done and how it should be done. This could be accompanied by the notion that “if you want it done right, you must do it yourself,” which could be a dangerous mentality, especially when you’re managing a team.

Completing or tweaking your employees’ work just because it isn’t to your standards or failure to delegate tasks, will not only create more workload for you but also hinder your team from hitting its potential. Taking up a team member’s work is actually great disservice since it could create a ground for disengagement.

If you get into this habit, the chances are that a talented team member will tackle a project up to 70% completion and leave the rest assuming that you will finish it up. The result is that performance will move in the wrong direction since the leader is already taking up more responsibility.

As a leader, you must push your teams to go beyond just satisfactory. This is different from delegating since you challenge your team to take up more work by themselves to perform better in the long run.

4. Avoiding Conflict

Learning how to deal with issues or disagreements is arguably one of the most challenging adjustments new leaders have to make. As a leader, you want to be balanced and fair while at the same time avoiding potential conflict, but this could be difficult at times. Managers often stay away from confrontation in an attempt to avoid the repercussions. When personality or performance issues are left unaddressed, however, they fester and set a tone that reduces the urgency of correcting organizational mistakes. Should an issue arise, it is good practice as a leader to have it addressed immediately when it is still fresh.

5. Not Believing in Yourself

When you’re assigned a role in leadership, it means that someone else has trust and believes in your judgment. Continuously doubting yourself will put off your employees, and with no time, all the trust will be gone. At times, you just have to go with what your gut tells you. Although it is vital that you listen to your colleagues and clients, it is not always the right decision, especially when you’re dealing with an innovative startup. It is okay to listen to your gut if you believe in what you’re doing.

New Managers Make Mistakes

6. Lacking Vision

A company without visionary leaders will definitely have challenges moving forward. As a leader, you’re supposed to set goals and expectations for an organization, as well as holding every member accountable for achieving them. The lack of vision early in your tenure as a junior manager will result in improper resources planning, unfocused projects, inaccurate metrics for organizational success, and lack of support from employees. Leadership must champion a vision which will align the organization as a whole, enabling everyone to work effectively towards a common goal. Besides, if you want to attract and retain top talent as a leader, you must create a culture that depicts your vision.

7. Not Giving Critical Feedback

Leaders want to be loved, and this makes it tough for them to tell people when they are doing something wrong, but this must be done. One of the greatest mistakes you can make as a leader is underestimating the importance of sharing critical yet constructive feedback. You should strive to create a maintain an environment where people are free to give and receive valuable feedback on their work. This is essential since it helps everyone perform their roles effectively, including yourself.

As a leader, you’re responsible for setting goals and expectations for the organization, in addition to holding employees accountable for achieving them. Since leadership mistakes are inevitable, the key is to learn from the mistakes. This way, you will experience growth and improve your decision-making.

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