Most CEOs and managers do try to improve themselves as leaders. Billions of dollars are spent on growth training, leadership books, and personal development in hopes of becoming a better boss or team leader. Though there are many complexities to being a great leader, some of the most significant mistakes are made by ignoring simple details.
Sometimes, I personally get so wrapped deep in the details of producing a live weekly radio show that it's easy to slip on some of the simple, easy habits that support my team members and get them running effectively and efficiently.
When the pressure and stakes are high, it's sometimes hard for me to remember to use the simple niceties of "please" and "thank you." I have been working on this lately. I find that these little forms of respect and gratitude actually keep things calmer than just being brisk and impersonal. It helps people stay warm and focused on what they need to do rather than how they feel.
Here are additional leadership mistakes from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Delaying Getting Rid of a Bad Employee
I see leaders spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to salvage a team member who is obviously not a good fit. They believe they are doing the right thing by rehabilitating this person or giving them a chance to work things out. This results in bad morale and means that the work not being done simply falls to other team members. More times than not, when I have sat across the table from a contractor or an employee to let him know that I was terminating his relationship with the company, I have been thanked or greeted with a sigh of relief. Both of us know it hasn't been a good fit, and it allows us to move forward in a more positive direction. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward
Want to read more from Eric? Click here.
2. Not Being Self-aware
All leaders have strong points and weak points. You can't avoid having weaknesses as a leader, but if you're really dumb, you can avoid knowing what they are. Instead, get as much feedback as possible, from your peers, from your board, perhaps from an outside consultant or coach, and--most important--from the people who report to you. They know what your weaknesses are, but they won't tell you unless you ask. And they'll need to know that saying stuff you hate to hear won't come back to hurt them later. Minda Zetlin--Start Me Up
Want to read more from Minda? Click here.
3. Skipping Personal Details
Early in my career, I was given the honor of attending an executive management retreat where I was one of only six people in a half-day breakout with a man who would soon become one of this country's most iconic leaders. Though he was kind, he twice referred to me by the wrong name--an understandable mistake given he was in the presence of 50 new faces. But I was young and questioning my worthiness of being there, so this left an indelible mark on my psyche. Don't diminish someone's experience of you and herself. If you're not certain of a name, it really is best to simply ask. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist
Want to read more from Marla? Click here.
4. Taking Employee Attitudes for Granted
The most ironic mistake that leaders, particularly entrepreneurs, owners, and top executives, make is thinking that--absent some reason to do so--their employees are going to treat the business the same way they do. They are then surprised when they don't. So instead of working long hours and giving their all to the business, employees give the minimum necessary effort and check out the minute they hit the parking lot at the end of the workday. If you want your people to treat the business the way you do--the way an owner does--then you've got to give employees a reason to do so. At minimum, set up a system of rewards that recognizes their performance, and provide your people with meaningful decision-making opportunities. Even better, give them equity in the business in the form of an ownership stake--whether through stock, profit sharing, an ESOP, or some other vehicle. You can't expect your people to treat your business the way an owner does if you don't turn your employees into owners. Peter Economy--The Management Guy
Want to read more from Peter? Click here.
Like this post? If so, sign up here and never miss out on this weekly roundtable.