Leaders aren’t born; they’re made. And that making process generally involves a lot of trial and error. But the good ones learn from those mistakes and their solutions to problems become the gameplan for the next wave of leaders, and so on. Good leaders learn from the mistakes of others and avoid those missteps for themselves.
With that in mind, here is a list of pitfalls that the good ones avoid.
Don’t assume you’re the smartest person in the room
That’s not to say you’re not the smartest person in the room, it’s just a danger to make that assumption. A good leader surrounds himself with smart people — smarter people — and is not threatened by intelligence. Creating an environment in which creative thinkers feel safe to share their ideas is a recipe for success. If you trust your staff, don’t be afraid to delegate. Micro-managing is a waste of your time and leads to burnout, resentment, and hostility. If you don’t have the team around you capable of managing necessary tasks, build a new team.
Don’t hire anyone less than the best
Your labor force is an investment. If you skimp to save a few dollars in the short run, you’ll pay for it in lost productivity in the long term. Or maybe the price tag will be lost opportunities that the top job candidate would have provided. Good leaders don’t necessarily involve themselves in the hiring process, but they do ensure that they’re hiring policies favor the best person for the job and that the person charged with the task knows how to spot potential.
Don’t disregard ideas because of their origins
A good idea is a good idea regardless of where it came from. Maybe a good idea comes from a competitor or the person who previously occupied the position you’re in now. To avoid implementing that idea simply because of its origins is a big mistake. In business, ideas are currency, and just like money, it’s really not important where it comes from (assuming it’s legal, of course), just that it comes.
Don’t focus on methods, just results
Everyone has a distinct way of performing given tasks. If you’re too stringent in enforcing “your” way on your employees, you might be stifling their potential. They might even leave to join a competitor with a less hands-on approach. If you’re getting the results you want, don’t worry about how you got them. If your team wants to work remotely, wants flexible hours, or just wants good old Hawaiian shirt Fridays, why not reward them with those perks if you’re getting what you want.
Don’t be afraid of change
Good leaders are flexible enough to adapt as situations change. What worked in the past will not always work in the future. Keep an ear to the ground and sense what’s coming next. Be ready to steer in a different direction if necessary — no, when necessary.
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