Leadership mistakes to avoid

Highly-effective leaders have a common thread running through their veins. No matter their industry or business size, effective leaders are driven, innovative, intelligent and results-oriented. Yet even in their accomplishments, effective leaders are also human. They make mistakes, and they have shortcomings.

The best way to overcome leadership weaknesses is to first recognize the mistakes themselves. Whether you’ve been in business for decades or you are brand new to the role, it’s important to know the common leadership mistakes to avoid or improve upon. Mistakes are inevitable, but your leadership success will be determined by how you recover and improve upon those mistakes. The four mistakes compiled here revolve around your companies most valued asset, your employees.

Hiring too fast

The biggest key to your businesses success won’t be the market or your customers. Your success will come down to the talent inside your organization, which means you need a complex and intricate team in place. As you work through the hiring process, go in with a mission to find stellar talent. Seek out the kind of talent that surprises and impresses you; the kind of talent that exceeds expectations. It’s easy to look at the role that needs fulfilling and the work that needs to be done, and quickly rush through the hiring process to get an employee in the door, doing the work. But effective leaders hire with the long-term picture in mind. Break away from thinking about filling a position, and shift your mindset to thoughtfully moving through the hiring process in a way that carefully and cautiously identifies the perfect fit for the role and for the company.

Selecting the wrong internal candidate for promotion

The wrong external hire can cost thousands of dollars, but so can the wrong internal promotion. Internal promotions offer great value to an organization – enterprise knowledge, culture understanding, developed employee and stakeholder relationships – but they can also be detrimental. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader, is to promote an employee into a new role strictly based on the performance of their existing role.

Consider a developer who is technical, analytical, introverted and independent. They may excel as a developer for the organization, and because of their talent, may rise to the top when management is needed for the development team. But will those natural skill sets allow the individual and those they manage to thrive?

Possibly, but possibly not. Take the time to measure the qualifications needed, and hire with the same mindset you’d maintain for an external candidate. Evaluate their skill sets and how those skills would match against the new job requirements. Promotions shouldn’t be given to recognize loyalty, tenure or to retain talent. Think of your promotions not as a reward, but as a process to acquire the right talent to carry the company toward success.

Overlooking the introverted employee

Without thinking about it, we can easily place added value onto the shoulders of employees who are more focal, more outspoken and more opinionated. The ones who share ideas and speak up first, often get spotlighted as creative, innovative and active participants in the organization. But what about the introverted employee, who quietly consumes information, processing it on their own terms without interjecting? Those employees, the introverts, can be overlooked in the workplace. But the best leaders understand the power that lies in introverted employees, and actively takes steps to empower those contributors and provide an environment conducive to the way the work.

Stay mindful that the workplace is filled with a mix of extroverts and introverts. Maintain a balance between collaboration and independence; between open concept workspaces and private offices. Recognize that introvert is not a synonym for shy, but defines the manner in which an individual captures their energy. Find ways to access the ideas and creativity of introverts in a one-on-one environment, rather than at the conference room table.

Misunderstanding motivation

Where do your employees get their motivation to come back to work and perform well, day after day, year after year? That motivation is likely not coming from a paycheck. Many leaders make the mistake that because employees are salaried or being paid regularly for the work they produce, motivation will naturally follow. But the reality is that employees get their motivation from other avenues than the monthly deposit in their account. Some desire flexibility and balanced life. Some employees value recognition and accolades. As a leader it’s important to invest time into the individual and understand their personal drivers. You might not have the bandwidth for annual bonuses or significant raises, but you can retain your employees by seeing them as individuals and striving to provide that which is most important in their lives.