“Classic” Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

There are some common mistakes that all leaders, new and veteran, should avoid.

First and most importantly, many leaders do not trust their team members and either micromanager the team or take on too much work themselves. Focus on outcomes, not how things happen. Don’t insist on being kept in the loop on the minutia—no one likes feel like they are being spied on.

Next is a symptom of the modern world and that is being overly connected. While often the characteristic of new leaders wanting to seem “in on” the digital revolution, many veterans may see over-connectivity as a way to make themselves seem still relevant and with the times.

Modern technology encourages not just leaders but employees to be tuned in all the time and never shut down from the work day. This can lead to what is being commonly called “hurry sickness”. This “disease” makes us feel that because of technology and being constantly connected we continually have to do more and do it faster.

For the leader, stretching oneself too thin over digital communication actually makes them less accessible, not more so. Likewise, do not expect this from team members, set clear boundaries for everyone and let the team know that the work day has a clear beginning and end.

The last mistake we will address is a “classic” in leadership discourse. That is, needing to be liked. Even in organizations that are almost 100% “just for fun” whoever is in charge is going to have to make decisions at times that are not popular among all team members. Even if this is your adult softball team or a Fortune 500 company.

Many new leaders misinterpret the respect and understanding they see team members giving other leaders as “being liked” or even friendship. While respect and understanding are not mutually exclusive from friendship or “being liked” they are far from the same thing.

More often than not in trying to please everyone, leaders will please no one. But if they make logical decisions that are best overall for the team and are based on the available facts of a situation that leader will earn respect and understanding even if a decision is not popular.

 

 

Embrace the Chaos of The Non-9-to-5

Being a small business owner almost guarantees one isn’t going to work a simple 9-5. Some may start their day only a few hours after night owls are going to bed, while others may have nothing but empty hours until lunch time and then it all comes rushing in at once. Others may experience a trickling in over 10-12 hour days.

Working with these irregular hours is key. Breaking up when one works will help maintain energy, focus, and problem solving—we have all experienced a scenario in which no matter how much energy we put into a project we loose sight of what is truly important, become exhausted and our thinking becomes muddled and useless.

When on concentrates on a non-work project for a while it allows our mighty subconscious to come to life and do some problem solving for us, while we get whatever else done. One will come back to the work project with fresh eyes, fresh ideas, and energy to implement them.

Embrace the irregularities involved in running our own business. Insisting on a the standard and rigid 9-5 only limits the possibilities and opportunities. Staying flexible means more opportunities and the time to take advantage of them, not less.

Of course, embracing the chaos requires one to keep an accurate schedule whether paper or digital. Write down important dates and times, make lists, set reminders. When working within the rigidity of the 9-5 it is often easy enough to know you’ve got eight hours to get it all done, not so for the small business owner.

Finally, while embracing the differences between the rigid 9-5, which for many is a challenge easily met, on must recognize their own limitations. Yes, do things non-traditionally. Yes, take advantage of more opportunities. Yes, be available for an overseas client at 4am and the local client at 4pm. But. On must recognize their own limitations are it is all for naught.

For many new independents it might be difficult to know, at first, what their limits are. Be prepared to recognize that moment in which although you’ve taken juggling lessons you begin to wish you had four arms.