9 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

In a recent online poll, about 1,000 U.S. workers were asked what their biggest complaints were about their leaders.  Today we’ll talk about the top nine of these complaints, how they are connected, and what you can do to avoid being one of the leaders they are complaining about.

The Complaints

OK, let’s get straight to the list, and I’ll add my thoughts along the way.

  1. Not asking about employees lives outside work (23%). Work may be about getting stuff done, but we’re dealing with people who have lives, families and interests.  You can’t just treat them like a cog in the machine.
  1. Refusing to talk to people on the phone or in person (34%). Text and email may be convenient, but it’s a poor substitute when you really need to communicate clearly.  Avoiding direct contact makes you seem insecure or you are hiding something, and that erodes trust.
  1. Not knowing employees’ names (36%). This is important; knowing their names mean you have given them an identity in your mind, and that matters.  Take the time to memorize their names, repeat them when you first hear them, write them down.
  1. Not offering constructive criticism (39%). Candor is important; people want to know that what they are doing matters.  When you take the time to offer some honest, respectful, helpful feedback, they know you care and that you want them to be successful.
  1. Taking credit for other’s ideas (47%). Really??  Not cool at all.  Don’t do this.  If anything, bend over backwards to make sure credit for good things goes to the people that deserve it.  It’s called loyalty, and it works both up and down.

Loyalty: It works best in all directions! Click To Tweet

  1. Refusing to talk to subordinates (51%). Avoiding a problem is not a good way to solve it, and the longer you wait, the worse it gets.    Better to square up and deal with it in person, the sooner the better.
  1. Not having time to meet with employees (52%). Stuff gets done through your teammates – you can’t do it all yourself.  Make the time to meet with them, understand their concerns, and help them contribute to the team.
  1. Not giving clear instructions (57%). This can be hard, but the key is to think specifically about what needs to be done and how it contributes to realizing the team’s vision.  Then delegate clearly so they understand what is needed and when.

And the number one Complaint??

  1. Not recognizing employee achievements (63%). It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you are doing and how you are spending your energy.  But your people are working hard for the team, too.  Be sure to show them some appreciation

What have you done lately to recognize a teammate's accomplishments? Click To Tweet

What it’s About

All these complaints center on the idea of connecting with people on a personal level, and developing trust.

The biggest complaints about leadership center on trust. Click To Tweet

I talk about this in another video, but the key idea here is that after basic needs like food, water, shelter, and safety are met, the next most important thing to people is a sense of belonging, value and trust from their teammates and their leader.

The Takeaway

This isn’t that hard to do.  You just have to be intentional about it until it becomes a habit.  Make time to speak with your teammates every day, learn about them as people, help them be successful, be honest with them, and celebrate their wins.

The more you support them in this way, the stronger and more productive your team will become.

Thanks for watching.  And if you are interested in more free leadership tips, you want to head on over to RapidStartLeadership.com for lots of videos, blog posts, and other resources that will help make your leadership learning curve a lot less steep.

See you next time.

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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