There is no arguing the fact that leadership sets the pace for an organization or group. As well-meaning as some leaders may be, there are several simple, common mistakes that could end up costing their business a lot in the long run.
Using “I” Instead of “We”
When leaders use “I” excessively when referring to goals and targets, it can unintentionally appear as if they are holding their power and position over their employees. This can make others feel insignificant and unappreciated. It is vital that employees feel like they are a part of a team and as if they are vital towards the company’s goals and future.
Simply changing pronoun usage from “I” to “we” can make significant changes in the workplace atmosphere and attitudes of your employees. It also reminds leadership that they are part of the team and helps to shift focus from the individual to the team. This mindset allows the leader to be more mindful of the needs of their employees, thereby making them a better leader.
At a certain point, every leader needs to let go of some tasks by delegating to others. A typical mistake leaders make is delegating, but then micromanaging every aspect of how the team member completes the task and instantly jumping in and interfering or taking the job back if something goes wrong.
The verb delegate means “to send or appoint as deputy or representative; to commit (powers, functions, etc.) to another as agent or deputy.” Some form of distance and autonomy is implied and necessary to make this possible. Constantly interfering when you delegate a task can make the employee feel like little more than a servant with no independence or ability to use their judgment.
When a leader behaves this way, it is usually driven by fear – fear that their employee will not complete the job correctly. Quite often the leader decides merely to keep the project or task to themselves, even though they do not have the time or training to do it. This adds to the leader’s stress and can often end in negative results. Proper delegation is designed to train employees to become more independent and can produce more leaders, helping the company as a whole.
Failing to Provide Feedback
According to a recent poll gathered, executives reported that failing to provide employee feedback was the most common error leaders make. It is not only essential to provide feedback in general, but it is also important that the feedback is timely – while circumstances or events are fresh.
Feedback allows your employees to improve and grow in their position and performance. Also, remember that feedback should not just be all negative – ways they are doing something wrong. Positive feedback and recognizing good performance and those who strive to excel in their job is just as vital as constructive criticism.
Being Too Friendly
Most leaders want to be perceived as approachable and friendly to their employees. Employees are happier and more productive when they feel their leadership is kind, fair, and approachable. Knowing where to draw the line can be difficult at times though. People often try to take advantage of a perceived friendship during difficult times or times when correction is necessary.
Balancing friendliness with proper authority can be a challenge. While it does not mean that leaders cannot socialize with their employees, it is imperative that leadership sets clear boundaries. This eliminates the temptation for employees to take advantage of them.
Another very common mistake leaders make is attempting to “drive” or force employee performance or business profits. No matter how bad it is wanted, performance and profit can only be affected indirectly, not directly. High performance and profits are the result of an action or decision.
The term “drive” implies that something is being forced to move, with no independence or decision available to the item being moved. This mindset tends to reduce employees to the slave mentality and unintentionally implies that they cannot be trusted or are incapable of making proper decisions on their own. This attitude severely affects employee morale and performance – often resulting in the very opposite result the leader is attempting to achieve.