Business News Daily, Nicole Fallon, September 25, 2013
As a leader, you’ve got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Despite your best efforts and intentions, mistakes can happen, and when they do, it’s important to deal with them in an open, professional manner. Here are some of the most common mistakes people in leadership positions make — and how to avoid them in the future.
Hiring too quickly
In a startup environment, founders have to work very hard in the beginning stages to accomplish everything that needs to be done. It’s tempting to hire the first potential candidate as soon as your budget allows for it so you can start building a team to help you. However, hasty hiring can be detrimental to your business.
“We’ve hired too fast because our team was spread thin, and that ended up backfiring in a lot of ways,” said Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of fashion startup JOOR. “People encourage you to hire, hire, hire. We’ve found that it’s best to take our time and go slowly.”
Bijoor cautions hiring managers to beware of candidates who don’t fit the company culture and don’t share the same passion and work ethic as the rest of the team. If a bad hiring decision is made and the employee simply isn’t right, it’s better to let them go as soon as possible rather than stick it out until someone better comes along.
“At the end of the day, you have to have the best team to execute your business,” Bijoor said. “You need to have the right chemistry of people.”
Expecting too much
Sometimes, the problem with a new hire isn’t that he or she isn’t right for the job, but that you as a leader are expecting too much of that person too soon. Anthony Lolli, founder and CEO of real estate firm Rapid Realty, noted that a promising employee can fail if he or she isn’t given the proper tools.
“When you run a business, you eventually want to buy some freedom by hiring employees,” Lolli said. “You give them a week of training to do what you’ve been doing by yourself for two years and wonder why they weren’t able to survive.”
Take the time to thoroughly train your team members before leaving responsibilities fully in their hands, Lolli advised. If you don’t cut them enough slack in the beginning, they’ll either disappoint you, or become overwhelmed and leave.
Assuming you’re right
A dangerous trap leaders can fall into is thinking their decision-making power means that their way is automatically the right one.
“Oftentimes, leaders assume that because they have the title, that makes them the thought leader,” said Mitchell Levy, author of “#Creating Thought Leaders Tweet” and CEO of THiNKaha. “They assume that what they say goes just because they say it, even if they act contrary to that.”
A related mistake leaders often make is to not critically listen to team members. Duggan Cooley, president and CEO of United Way of Pasco County, said leaders are sometimes so driven to get their point across and get the job done that they don’t take the time to hear what others are saying. This can lead to major communication problems within an organization.
To solve these issues, Levy urges leaders to take a step back and let others aggregate, curate and originate ideas both internally among the staff and externally to draw prospects and customers.
“You need to encourage this behavior and allow your team to get credit for their initiatives,” he said.
Failure to delegate
Leaders who like things done a specific way tend to think they’re the only ones who know how to do certain tasks. With a full schedule and a tremendous to-do list, bosses with the inability to delegate can quickly run out of time to get the really important tasks accomplished.
“The most critical thing you can do as a leader is know yourself and your style of leadership,” Cooley told BusinessNewsDaily. “If you’re overwhelmed, ask yourself if it’s because of [a lack of] delegation. Could you have gotten others involved? Should you have been asking people to get something done or deal with an issue, but didn’t?”
Cooley acknowledged that it can be difficult for leaders to ask others for help, especially when it comes to assessing their own challenges, but also noted that delegation to trusted colleagues can not only help build the morale of your team, but also take some responsibilities off your already-full plate.
What can you do to ensure that if you do make a mistake, you’ll still retain the trust and respect of your team? All four sources agree that admitting and owning up to an error is the first and most important step to recovery.
“Be clear about why the situation didn’t work and what failed,” Bijoor recommended. “It’s so important to talk with your team about why things didn’t go well.”
Similarly, Cooley noted that people appreciate honesty and humility when their leader makes a mistake. In fact, it can go a long way in helping to bring a team back together.
“As a leader, you not only lead the team, but you’re part of it,” he said. “Humilit