An Actionable Solution to the Mistakes Leaders Make
There are many paths to success, but the options for screwing up are limitless. You screw up by leaving things undone, or you do the right thing in the wrong way.
It’s usually easier to spot mistakes of action than mistakes of neglect.
The mistakes leaders make are deadly because they harm others.
You’ve probably made all the mistakes listed below.
Reasons for the mistakes leaders make:
You do the wrong thing for two reasons, ease or ignorance. Sometimes the wrong thing is easier than the right thing. Other times you’re just ignorant.
Mistakes of ease are caused by lack of courage or short-term wins.
Sincere ignorance doesn’t do the right thing because it’s busy doing other things.
7 mistakes of ease:
- Not giving feedback.
- Not seeking feedback.
- Postponing tough conversations.
- Ignoring problems.
- Allowing fuzzy accountability.
- Not defining the win.
- Not setting priorities.
Mistakes of ease sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate.
7 mistakes of ignorance:
- Confusing busy with getting things done.
- Working hard on the wrong things. Doing someone’s work for them, for example.
- Hanging on too long. Mistakes of endurance wear you down.
- Trying harder. Pedaling faster when you’re going the wrong way doesn’t help.
- Going it alone. Isolation intensifies ignorance.
- Waiting for the perfect decision instead of moving the ball forward.
- Allowing double standards. You notice the mistakes of others and make exemption for your own.
The worst mistakes leaders make are a combination of ease and ignorance.
Solving the mistakes leaders make:
Lack of self-reflection prolongs mistake-making.
Invest 15 minutes a day asking yourself questions.
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What are my frustrations?
- What am I learning?
- What could I try that I haven’t tried yet?
- What’s giving me energy?
- What’s draining my energy?
Self-reflection protects you from repeating the same mistakes.
What are some mistakes in leadership/management you have made?
Self-Reflection: The Secret to 23% Improvement in 10 Days
Where Leadership Starts – The Surprising Practice You Can Begin Today
I have worked for folks whose mantra was “do more with less” (or Ignorance #4: Work Harder). But, as someone once pointed out, you cannot do more with less; you can only do less with less. Instead of working harder, what you need to do is figure out what you don’t need to be doing so you can focus on what needs to be done. Which the 15 minutes of self-reflection will help with.
Thanks Jennifer. Stopping is harder than starting, especially when identity is connected to the things we are doing.
The logical extension of “doing more with less” is that pretty soon you can do everything with nothing.
Dan, very interesting for you to choose cats to portray leadership failures. I’m going to ponder on that for a while. Powerful post. And yes, I believe the lack of understanding the statement ‘The mistakes leaders make are deadly because they harm others’ by our leaders today, sums up our society today.
Thanks Lyndieb. Good to see you today. I use animals in images because using people opens me up to complaints about discrimination. Frankly, I prefer it. Animals are more appealing to me.
I found the cat image first and that motivated me to look for another. 🙂
Cats make mistakes of ease, and dogs make mistakes of ignorance? 🙂
Love that, Rob!! 🙂
Good post – except for “The mistakes leaders make are deadly because they harm others.” Mistakes might be serious, but rarely deadly – unless you are in a profession where mistakes can actually result in death. Thanks.
Thanks Bill. Good point. I plead hyperbole. 🙂
It’s not hyperbole, Dan. As I responded to Bill, I’ve seen first hand how a leader’s mistakes can be deadly to some one’s confidence and career. Great post.
I beg to differ. Mistakes that leaders make can be deadly to someone’s confidence and career. As a coach, I have worked with too many people having to resurrect their careers and confidence because of the mistakes leaders have made.