Running a business requires a certain skill set. Whether you are a CEO of a major corporation or a manager at a store, you need to have leadership skills, and you need to know how to use them. Even if you have these skills, you might find that you fall prey to common mistakes that leaders in business environments often make. If you want to be an effective leader, it is important that you be aware of common pitfalls and avoid small mistakes that can undermine your authority. The following are six examples of errors that can derail you.
In addition to avoiding common mistakes, focus on fostering the qualities that make leaders effective. Work on fostering trust and loyalty in the workplace between yourself and your employees. Prioritize transparency and accountability at all levels of your staff. These ideals—in addition to awareness of the following common missteps—will make your leadership endeavors much more successful.
Trying to Be a Friend
It’s a common debate whether an employee can truly be friends with their boss. When you come to work and enjoy the company of your staff, that might seem like a friendship, but the power imbalance created by your role as a leader makes it a little bit more complicated. Regardless of whether bosses and staff can be friends, this should never be your motive when you come into work. Do not approach your employees as potential friends and social buddies. Approach them as your professional colleagues and collaborators. This can help you avoid any emotional complication and blurred boundaries.
Playing favorites is yet another dangerous endeavor that too many leaders mistakenly engage in at work. Of course, it is only natural that you will have a better relationship with those employees who exhibit better performance and are productive employees. To make a professional preference known, however, only serves to demoralize the rest of your employees. If you want your whole team to succeed, make it known that you value them all equally. Do not give any preferential treatment to a single staff member. Doing so will only cause strife and frustration throughout the workplace.
Lacking a Major Strategy
The day-to-day minutia of running a business can be overwhelming, and it may feel as though putting out little fires prevents you from focusing on any major strategy. If you do not center your efforts strategically, though, you cannot expect to get much accomplished. It is vital that you develop a specific approach to your leadership responsibilities and maintain that focus throughout your work. This is the approach that professionals such as Don Gayhardt have built successful businesses with. Rather than getting caught up in little issues, focus on the big picture with a professional strategy.
Lack of Direction
It is important to be very clear with your employees regarding what is expected of them and how they should complete their job. If you develop a definitive strategy for your work but do not impart this strategy to your staff, it is essentially useless. As a leader, you should always be directing and leading the rest of your company to ensure everybody is on the same page and working towards the same goals. To this end, schedule daily or weekly meetings to establish goals for all staff members. This eliminates ambiguity regarding responsibility and ensures everybody is treated equally.
Setting Unclear Standards
Professionals such as Don Gayhardt have excelled in business for more reasons that one. Perhaps the biggest catalyst, though, is a set of consistent leadership principles that guide business actions and decisions. One of the most important leadership principles is the responsibility you have to maintain clear standards for your employees. There should be no ambiguity when it comes to what you expect from your staff and how they should be performing in the workplace. If there are questions, you should always make yourself available to answer them and provide professional clarity to your employees.
Delegating Too Much or Too Little
Delegating is one of the most basic tasks leaders must engage in. You cannot possibly do everything you are responsible for, and that is why you have a team of capable professionals to help and report back to you. Too many business leaders, though, make the mistake of either delegating too much or too little—and these are equally problematic offenses. If you put off all of your responsibilities on staff, they will notice and become resentful. On the other hand, if you hesitate to share responsibilities, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.
No leader is perfect, but there are some essential principles you can follow to become better. More importantly, you can avoid common mistakes and pitfalls to ensure that you are not sabotaging yourself with simple errors. Familiarizing yourself with the aforementioned six common mistakes is a good place to start in your pursuit of effective leadership techniques.