The #1 Mistake Most Leaders Make by Cindy Jansen
You’re going to make mistakes as a leader; you’re only human.
These types of mistakes are common, but they’re not the type of mistake you’ll likely repeat.
At Living As A Leader, we teach a workshop in our Leadership Development Series known as The Seven Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make.
These mistakes aren’t the “rookie” mistakes we all make from time to time. These are mistakes you might make over and over, no matter how many years of experience you have leading others.
Today we are going to talk about the #1 most common leadership mistake we encounter in our work at Living As A Leader…
Avoidance of key issues.
Key issues typically involve a concern about behavior, performance or a personal issue.
There are several reasons you may avoid key issues with your direct report, your peer, or even your leader:
I was coaching a leader recently, and she shared that she was avoiding an issue with one of her direct reports because she didn’t know how the employee would respond to the conversation.
When I asked how long she had been avoiding it, she told me it had been one month. She mentioned that in the past, this employee would react negatively and then go to this leader’s boss.
She simply decided it wasn’t worth her time or worth the ‘follow up conversation’ with her boss. Avoiding felt easier. She said the issue will probably just go away.
I used to call this my ‘Hope and Pray’ strategy. This is where you hope the employee figures it out on their own and pray it just goes away. In my experience, this strategy has never paid off.
For so many leaders, we avoid situations because they feel uncomfortable. We don’t know the words to use, we dislike confrontation, or we are simply too busy with our own stuff. Many of us, like this leader, decide it isn’t worth the discomfort.
Here are three things you can do TODAY to overcome avoidance.
It may also help if you shift your mindset from, “I HAVE to have this conversation” to “I GET to have this conversation.” Instead of hiding behind the discomfort, recognize and accept that it will probably be difficult. You may find that merely admitting it to yourself will make it less uncomfortable.
As a leader, my greatest regrets are the conversations I didn’t have, not the ones that didn’t go as well as I had hoped.
I regret the times I chickened out and didn’t have a tough conversation. These were the times I was more concerned about how I was feeling. I had my own comfort and self-interest in mind. Those missed conversations could have helped our team or changed the trajectory of someone else’s work or career. I wish I had had more courage in those moments.
By addressing tough issues early on, you reduce the risk of a situation getting blown out of proportion. You will make your team more effective, productive, and confident in your leadership abilities! You also increase the confidence you and others have in your leadership capabilities.
I hardly need to tell you that the role of a leader is an important one. You're responsible for guiding and motivating your team to achieve its goals.
When things don't go right, it’s up to you to offer guidance and re-directive feedback. Focus on how you can make a shift from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking.
Remember, when you become a leader, it’s not about you anymore.