The most common leadership mistakes made by new leaders

And how you can avoid making these leadership mistakes yourself.

Stepping into a leadership role for the first time is challenging and rewarding, but it can also be scary at times. These are some of the common mistakes new leaders make, and I offer a few tips to help you get off to the right start.

Mistake 1 – Forgetting about people

If you’ve never led others before, you may find it tempting to keep performing your former job duties and look at leading as simply another task to complete. As a leader, it’s not about how much work you can get done, but how much you can use your people skills to motivate others to give their best.

Place your focus on outcomes, rather than your personal activity level. As a leader, your primary job is now to act as a facilitator, identifying roadblocks that cause people to get bogged down. You must also connect your team with the tools and resources that they need to perform at their best. Focus on your people and not solely on tasks or processes.

Mistake 2 – Forgetting about your strengths

No one can excel at everything. New leaders often mistakenly feel that they need to be perfect in every area. It is useful to learn new skills, but to be an effective leader, you must focus on sharpening those skills that help you to stand out from other leaders and which truly define you.

Think about what do you do best, what are you known for and what area of leadership comes naturally to you. Focus on developing the areas where you already have some natural ability and that make you great at what you do. While it’s a good idea to know your weaknesses, always play to your strengths.

Mistake 3 – Not taking risks.

As a new leader, it is only natural to feel hesitant at times and doubt yourself. Rather than holding yourself, or your team, back for fear that you might make a mistake, you need to trust your judgment and be willing to step out of your comfort zone to try new ways of doing things.

Innovation is critical to gaining the upper hand against your competition and delighting your customers. Encourage your team to try new ways of doing things to improve performance. Encourage creative problem solving and innovation. The ideas are there. You just need to find and apply them.

Of course, there will be times that you and your team fail. Just be certain to embrace whatever lessons you can from your mistakes and move on, quickly. An occasional failure along the way is integral to ultimate success.

Mistake 4 – Not being yourself.

To inspire others to give you their best, you must have mutual trust and respect. This is impossible to build unless you are both authentic and honest with yourself and others. While it’s important to be upbeat and positive, don’t shy away from telling the truth when it needs to be said. Acknowledge the challenges that you and your team face. Have integrity. Be direct. Define realistic goals, hold your team, and yourself, accountable. Walk your talk.

Mistake 5 – Not saying what you think

One of the most difficult areas for new leaders to get right is feedback. Your team doesn’t just need to hear from you when something is wrong, you must let them know what they are doing right!  Be prepared to give and receive honest feedback.

Offer praise when your team is performing at their best. Always make certain that you are giving your team the tools that they need to meet their goals. This includes providing additional training and opportunities to build competence and learn new skills.

In addition to providing feedback, ask for unbiased, constructive insight into your own performance. Look to peers and others to offer feedback about your strengths and what areas you need to work on to improve your performance.

Mistake 6 – Overlooking your wins

Don’t forget to celebrate milestones and wins, no matter how small.

New leaders are often so focused on the big picture that they forget to acknowledge the successes hey achieve along the way. Celebrating your successes is a great way to help keep you and your team motivated and pushing forward. This is especially true when you hit obstacles and other roadblocks that make achieving your goals seems elusive and unobtainable.

Mistake 7 –  Becoming too comfortable

Complacency is the worst thing that can happen to a leader. Once you have achieved some success in your leadership role, don’t get comfortable. Don’t rest on your laurels. Keep learning and growing! Always be looking for ways to take on new challenges and opportunities and expand your leadership role.

Becoming a leader is not always easy, but it IS always worth it.

What mistakes have you seen new leaders make and how might you help them if you see it happening elsewhere?  We’d love to hear about your experiences so please leave a comment below.

If you want some help developing into an effective leader or growing your team of new leaders our Emerging Leaders program could be just what you are after. Give us a call, we would love to chat you through it and see if it is a great fit for your organisation.

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