It’s not easy being a leader. Having the responsibility for others, being inspirational, fair and conscientious can be challenging at times. However, there are some mistakes that leaders at all levels have struggled with. In this article we share some common pitfalls and the lessons to be learned from the experience of others.

Failing to delegate

Often leaders make the mistake of having the mentality that if you want a job done right, then you have to do it yourself. And so if you’re one of those leaders that finds it hard to delegate or perhaps even ends up finishing off or tweaking team members’ work, then it’s time to rethink your approach. You see, not only does it create more work for you and take up additional time that you would be better off spending elsewhere, it also impedes your team from reaching its full potential.

And so instead, try and make a conscious effort to empower your team by trusting your employees’ expertise and ability to do the job to the expected standard. That way you will gain more respect and confidence in your leadership from team members and you will be enhancing the levels of engagement and team morale.

Avoiding confrontation

If there is an issue or disagreement within your team, then it may be tempting to stick your head in the sand and hope that it goes away. None of us enjoy confrontation, but negative behaviour or a disagreement can act like a sore that festers away in the background. As a leader it’s incumbent on you to take early action to deal with the issue before it gets out of control.

In addition, managers can make the mistake of assuming that a problem is the result of incompetence or poor performance. But often the root of the problem is actually unclear expectations. And so make sure you always set clear expectations, firm deadlines and provide regular feedback to avoid any misunderstandings.

Making emotional decisions

Sometimes it can be hard to be impartial and not let your emotions influence a decision. However, if you want to keep team members on board, it’s not a good idea to let your emotions be the sole influence on your decision-making processes. Your staff members will expect to see you making decisions based on facts and logic so that there is a transparent rationale behind the final choice.

And the team will also expect you to have the humility to know when the required decision is outside your field of expertise. The sensible choice would then be to first consult with team members or other personnel in the organisation who have the required expertise and knowledge.  If you want to keep team members on side, then impartial decision-making with a clear and transparent rationale is what’s required.

Developing and growing your leadership abilities is an ongoing requirement for all successful leaders and involves self-reflection and personal insight. Awareness of these common pitfalls will help to sharpen your leadership skills and will see you avoiding the mistakes of others.