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Don't Make These 9 Deadly Leadership Mistakes

You want to do the right things, but a big part of your success also hinges on avoiding the wrong things. To be a great boss, avoid these 9 common traps.

Being a leader isn't easy, and not every decision you make is going to be a good one. But you can be a more effective leader if you avoid the most common mistakes that bosses make. The good news is that, with just a little bit of work and attention, these mistakes can be avoided and your company can thrive as a result. So avoid these 9 deadly leadership mistakes at all cost.

1. Failing to delegate

The key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done. Whenever you prepare to take on a new task or assignment, make a point to ask yourself whether one of your employees can do it instead.

2. Not setting goals

Not only do goals give employees direction and purpose, but they ensure that your employees are working towards the overall goals of the organization. Setting goals with employees is a key job of any leader. Ultimately, the goals that you and your employees agree to should support the goals of your organization.

3. Looking for quick fixes

No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution. The trouble is that in our zeal to fix things quickly and move on to the next fire to be fought, we often overlook the lasting solution that may take longer to develop. You want to make a decision and move on, but don't be too hasty.

4. Communicating poorly--or not at all

It can be difficult for busy bosses to keep employees up to date on the latest developments. And with the speed that information now travels, employees may learn what's going on in the organization before the boss does.  Regardless, make every effort to get employees the information they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.

5. Failing to learn

Every employee, no matter how talented or meticulous, makes mistakes.  What separates good employees from not-so-good employees is their ability to learn from those mistakes.  The best leaders create an environment in which employees aren't afraid to take prudent risks, even if it means occasional failure, because that's how employees learn.

6. Resisting change

If you think you can keep things from changing in your business, you are mistaken. Instead of resisting change, or reacting to it after the fact, anticipate the changes that are coming and make plans to address them before they arrive.

7. Not making time for employees

Above all, leadership is a people job. When an employee needs to talk with you--whatever the reason--put your work aside, turn off the phone, and focus on that employee. If you're not available at that moment, make an appointment to meet with the employee as soon as possible.

8. Missing chances to make work fun

Without a doubt, being a boss is serious business. Despite the gravity of these responsibilities, the best leaders make their organizations fun places to be. Your people spend about one-third of their lives at work.  Make it a pleasant place for them.

9. Failing to praise and reward

There are many things that leaders can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and take only a few minutes to accomplish.  When you take the time to recognize employees’ achievements, the result is improved morale, performance, and loyalty.

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IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: May 2, 2014


While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest columns, and visit him anytime at

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