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Top Mistakes Leaders Make

I read a fun article today in Golf Digest: “The Top 40 Mistakes Golfers Make.” The list included: Wearing black socks with khakis, following a bad shot with a dumb one, and thinking a white belt makes you look hip! It was such a good list I decided to make my own: The top mistakes leaders make. Let me warn you, my list is not as fun as theirs.

1. Leading without a destination – Call this what you will, but don’t confuse it with leadership.
2. Forgetting vision leaks – The vast majority of leaders, maybe 90% or more, don’t communicate vision enough.
3. Assuming the future will be an extension of the past – This is how leaders, companies and organizations become irrelevant.
4. Being unwilling to change – The best leaders know, progress is always preceded by change.
5. Failing to build a succession plan – Hans Finzel wrote years ago, “There is no success without a successor.”
6. Confusing hope with strategy – Hope is a wonderful thing, but it is no substitute for a well-conceived, well-executed plan.
7. Ignoring social media – According to Michael Hyatt, “Social media is the most powerful leadership tool in the history of the world.”
8. Keeping someone on the team who cannot do their job – If this is a struggle for you, I recommend Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings.
9. Not investing in leadership development – I believe this is why so many organizations are over-managed and under-led.
10. Focusing exclusively on results – A focus on results and relationships is a great example of Jim Collins’ concept: The genius of the AND.
11. Failing to call people to action – Leaders not only cast vision, they call people to do something.

12. Not walking the talk. Trust and credibility can be lost in a heartbeat if a leader’s words and deeds are not aligned. tweet-graphic-1

13. Not establishing core values – If you don’t tell people what’s important, they’ll guess – they may guess wrong.
14. Not enforcing core values – If you do have core values and don’t enforce them, you’re better off without them.
15. Not establishing key performance metrics – Nothing improves without measurement.
16. Being a self-serving vs. a serving leader – If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills.
17. Not committing to life-long learning Your capacity to grow determines your capacity to lead.
18. Operating in an outdated structure – Structure should enable, not inhibit the accomplishment of your goals.
19. Attempting to make all the decisions – The leader who tries to make all the decisions is literally starving while sitting on a sandwich.
20. Doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different outcome – This is also the definition of insanity.
This was a fun list to make – and it didn’t take but a couple of minutes! Why? I’ve made many of these mistakes myself. The trick… avoid making them more than once.[GLS_Shield]
How about you? Send me some of your favorite leadership mistakes and I’ll do another post to share them. You can leave your contribution in the comments section below.

Leave a comment



Geoff Roberts

6 years ago

Not understanding when to lead and when to manage – resulting in their brainspace being taken up by day to day management instead of future leadership

Jonathan Shurbutt

6 years ago

What a sobering list, and an excellent metaphor for #19! Leading smaller groups and initiatives in the past, I have committed the mistake of ‘over-democracy’. While ensuring everyone had a valid voice, I ran the risk of turning all-star teams into stubborn owners. This is often a thin line that takes wisdom to manage. Many of a leader’s best intentions can quickly become damaging failures.

Barry Reynolds

6 years ago

How about adding one more to the list – #21. Reviewing the list of top mistakes and thinking of them in the context of someone else, and not themselves. – You can’t develop the leadership skills of others without first developing your own.

Craig Goettsche

6 years ago

Leadership mistake…Trusting without verifying

Gwyneth Jones

6 years ago

21. Not placing a high value in your school Library program & Teacher Librarian – s/he can help you in SO many ways! Including making the library the learning commons hub for the school & community! + An ed tech leader on your side! #Advocacy
Cheers!
~GwynethJones
The Daring Librarian

Elizabeth Prado Lubbock Texas

6 years ago

forgetting to pull individuals aside when things are not being done right, or when they don’t pay attention and have to repeat the whole scenario again

Srinivas Belvadi

6 years ago

Three other mistakes come to mind..
1. Lack of Trust – this eventually leads people we lead losing faith in our vision.
2. Micromanaging – evidently because we don’t trust and thus kill creativity.
3. Instant Results – hankering for instant results causing widespread frustration.

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