Most of us have seen examples of perceived leadership wherein people believe that individuals who came up with something cool, such as a novel product or a useful service, are actually leaders when they aren’t, not by current standards. But somehow these creative individuals are elevated to the levels of leaders.
A person may have an innovative product but without solid leadership skills, he or she isn’t winning any awards in the long-term. Just look at the likes of Conrad Parker of Zenefits and Elizabeth Holms of Theranos – they had great products but sloppy leadership which resulted in one-hit wonders.
This begs the question: What did these people have in common? They committed one or more of the following leadership mistakes.
1. Becoming an Untrustworthy Leader
Being a great leader is built on a foundation of trust. When a team leader is viewed as untrustworthy by his team members for any reason at all, he cannot be an effective leader, much less a great one. But when a leader has established trust and has maintained the confidence of his team members, he becomes a better leader, even the best leader in the eyes of his members.
Keep in mind that trust is the glue that brings and holds people together in a relationship, whether it’s a marriage or a business partnership. Without it, nearly everything about the relationship begins to suffer, and it’s true in many aspects of business relationships. Lack of trust, usually due to trust being broken, can erode everything – the morale of employees, the confidence of customers, investors and vendors, and the motivation for innovation, among others.
Tip: Build trust in your team members by saying what you mean and meaning what you say, as well as being decisive in your decisions (seesawing in your decisions is a sign of weakness and, thus, untrustworthiness).
2. Overly Focused on the Numbers
Yes, being in business is about the bottom line – income, costs, and profits as stated in dollar terms, among others. But keep in mind, too, that it isn’t just about the numbers – it’s also about the people behind the numbers, the people moving the products and delivering the services, and the people keeping the business going. Indeed, human capital is arguably the most important resource in business for without people, nothing moves in the business!
So, don’t just focus on the numbers. You have to appreciate the people behind the business and, in doing so, acknowledge their value to your company. You don’t have to be chummy with your team members all the time – otherwise, you’re risking the blurring of lines between personal feelings and professional demands to the detriment of your business – but it pays to know the person outside of the office.
For example, you can take the time to know their interests, milestones, and birthdays and anniversaries so there’s a personal touch. You should also look into company outings to strengthen camaraderie.
3. Being Selfish
Great leaders are humble people because they know that they couldn’t have achieved their goals without other people by their side, much less without other people’s time, talents and energy poured into their projects. But poor leaders take all the credit for the team’s achievements yet blame the team members for the failures. In short, their sense of command responsibility is either weak or non-existent.
When you give credit where credit is due, you’re not only acknowledging the valuable work of your team members but you’re also establishing your own trustworthiness. You’re giving them the opportunity to grow while also giving yourself the chance to learn from them – it’s indeed a win-win situation that you should consider.
4. Putting Team Members Down
Poor leaders don’t want others to enjoy the opportunities for personal and professional growth because they want everything to themselves. They put up so many challenges for their team members that they don’t have stand a chance from the first get-go! They see their own team as their competition and, thus, they’d rather put down their team members instead of letting them advance for the good of the team as a whole.
Don’t be the blocker! You should look at your team members as your partners in achieving your goals so providing them with the opportunities for their personal and professional growth makes sense.