I’ve had the opportunity to be a leader in many contexts, but I didn’t realize until recently that one thing unites all these leadership experiences: mistakes. The more time spent as a leader, the more mistakes you may make. However, I do not view mistakes as a negative experience. I view them as a learning opportunity and grow from it. Here are mistakes I learned in leadership:
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career was ignoring feedback. Feedback is essential and should be sought after whenever possible, no matter what person it is from. Anyone from a client, employee, or executive can give valuable feedback. When you receive feedback, you should take it to heart and use it to improve yourself and your leadership skills. Feedback can be an opportunity for growth and help others grow with you.
Not Allowing the Team to Contribute Ideas.
Your team is the closest to the work, so let them contribute ideas. If you don’t allow your team members to talk about their ideas and issues, then how will you know what’s going on? How will you know whether or not they’re happy? And how will you know whether or not your company is succeeding in its mission?
There are indeed some problems that only the highest levels of leadership can tackle. For instance, if you have an idea that requires work beyond anything available in your current setting. If your business has reached a point where this kind of thing isn’t happening too often, then there should be plenty of room for everyone’s input.
Focusing on Results, Not the Process
It’s important to note the distinction between process-focused leadership and results-focused leadership. Results-focused leaders are most concerned with immediate outcomes. While process-focused leaders care more about cultivating a reliable system that can be replicated in the future.
4. Don’t Claim to Know it All:
Be honest. If you don’t know something, let your employee know that. It doesn’t do anyone service when you lie about knowing something. One of my go-to’s when someone asks me something I don’t know is, “That’s a great question. I don’t know yet, but let me find out and get back to you.”
A great example of this is Elon Musk:
- He doesn’t just focus on getting SpaceX into space ASAP. Instead, he works hard on creating an efficient system that allows his company to launch successful rockets.
- Likewise, although he’s been able to produce some great products like Tesla cars, one thing that sets him apart from other auto manufacturers is not just the fact that his cars look cool or have unique features. It’s also because they’re made by an elegant manufacturing process which ensures high quality every time.
Not Properly Delegating Tasks
As a leader, you have a lot on your plate. It can be tempting to take on tasks that others are capable of handling and “save” them time. However, doing this will result in a lack of trust among the team members, who may believe that they must do everything themselves lest they get blamed if something goes wrong. Delegating tasks is a vital part of leadership. It helps create an environment where people feel empowered and valued for their contributions.
When delegating responsibilities, ensure you’ve clearly outlined what needs to be done and why someone else needs to handle the responsibility. Additionally, ensure that the person has all the resources necessary for success. You might also consider having regular check-ins with those responsible for specific areas so that everyone knows how projects are going. When delegating accountability and responsibility, make sure both parties understand what’s expected, so there isn’t any confusion down the road when something goes awry. Or even better yet: before anything goes wrong.
Trying to Do too Much.
Leadership is a team sport, requiring you to delegate and ask for help. You can’t be expected to carry the weight of an entire organization on your shoulders, so don’t try.
I’ve found that many people think their job is just about doing all their work perfectly. That’s not the case. You have many responsibilities in your life outside of work—your relationships, family time, stress management, etc. All of these things need attention, too. That’s why it’s important not only that we take care of ourselves but also to make time for self-care activities such as exercising or meditating. These things give us energy so we can be more productive when we’re back at work again later on.
Leaders Make Mistakes as Learning Opportunities
Everyone makes mistakes, even the best leaders. But it’s important to recognize these mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities. I learned a lot from these lessons, and I hope you can also take something away from them.