Assuming you want to increase your company value, you may want to avoid certain leadership mistakes. If you commit these mistakes, you won’t get the best out of your people, and your customers will receive second-rate products and services. Worse, your best customers and people may leave.
Unfortunately I have made all of these mistakes, some more frequently than I’d like to admit. Here are my top ten value-killers.
1. You think it’s all about you
Sadly, many people want leadership positions because of the short-term benefits. They want power, recognition, responsibility, and the ability to tell others what to do. The glamour quickly wears off when you realize this attitude doesn’t get the job done. Every leadership position is temporary and is a privilege to serve others. In the end we all want people to remember us as leaders who left things better than when we arrived. Invest in your employees and work hard to delight your customers. Don’t do anything to shoot yourself in the foot. You may not have time to recover.
2. You forget how to follow
It’s exhausting and discouraging trying to follow someone who has all the answers and is always shutting others down. No single person can possibly have all the answers. Let’s be humble enough to listen for the best ideas from our teams and know when to follow. In fact, our vision should be so big that we need brilliant ideas from our colleagues to achieve it. Let’s embrace our humanity and realize the best ideas don’t have to come from us. Again, it’s not all about us.
3. You blame others for the bad
I worked for a guy once who blamed everyone else when things didn’t go as planned. Despite his big title, he had no loyalty and people hated him. You don’t want to put yourself in this position. As leaders, everything is our responsibility. If someone makes a mistake, we have to own it and then ask ourselves, “what could I have done to prevent that?” And then we must do what we can to set that person up for success in the future.
4. You take all credit for the good
We’ve all been in situations where someone takes credit for something we did. It sucks. We can’t afford to do this to our teams. Our teams help us accomplish big and small things everyday and we need to recognize it. When we give people the gift of recognition they’ll run through walls trying to do it again. Let’s be humble and accept that others will perform better and generate better ideas than we do. Let’s remain confident and focused on our bigger vision and give others credit for small victories.
5. You view people as replaceable cogs
In a post-industrial era some leaders are still trying to lump people in with machines. They view people as mindless, numb and interchangeable. This is waste of people’s time and abilities, and the company’s money. If you’re going to pay a person, enable her to contribute her greatest gifts. Each person has something brilliant to offer, so be a leader and find out what it is. Inspire them to bring their full creativity and passion to work.
6. You think your poor choices go unnoticed
A little lie here or there, no one will notice. Wrong. As a leader you’re on display. Your employees pay attention to everything you do, in and out of the office. They see and they care. If you’re unfaithful to your wife, if you neglect your kids, if you tell a white lie to a co-worker or cheat a customer, your reputation and influence suffers. Everyone makes mistakes, but don’t do anything to put your character in question.
7. You believe the lie “it’s just business”
We can’t leave ethics at home. Customers and employees want to deal with someone they like and trust. You may get away with it sometimes, but it won’t last. Business is all about people. Remember, every interaction with a customer or employee is an opportunity to build (or erode) company value. Don’t make decisions just to make a couple extra bucks this year at the sacrifice of your vision. Building something of great value takes time, but it’s worth it.
8. You quit too early
We can all agree business is difficult. Things rarely, if ever, go as planned. This doesn’t mean the original plan was bad and it should be scrapped for the flavor of the day. Leaders who are lead by a crystal clear vision are steadfast in pursuit of it. They don’t change course because of a bad month, quarter or year. They stick with the vision and, together with the people alongside them, try to make it reality. This kind of perseverance is contagious.
9. You think it’s a waste of time to work on leadership skills
Unfortunately many leaders end up in a leadership position solely because of job skill proficiency, perceived intelligence, and past individual performance. This doesn’t mean they are ready to lead people. Leaders aren’t born, they are made through emotional effort. Invest the time to become a better communicator. Work on making better connections with people. Yes, it is difficult, but worth it if you want great results from the people you lead.
10. You don’t invest in your key three
The greatest thing any leader can do is create more leaders. The only way to do this is to spend time with them. Identify your Key 3 and help them develop as leaders. Help them fill in knowledge and skill gaps. Give them opportunities to lead before it’s required. Give them permission to think big, take calculated risks, and occasionally fail. This is where most growth happens. People do amazing things when we believe in them and then invest a little time.
This list is not exhaustive. There are certainly other mistakes but I think I’ve covered the major ones. If you can avoid these, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better leader and building more company value.
Question: What other mistakes have you made as a leader or have you witnessed in other leaders?