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10 leadership mistakes & how to avoid them

As the leader of your small business, you want to propel your company forward, boost employee morale, and motivate your team to pursue excellence. But even the best business leaders make mistakes. 

We can all strive for perfection, but it’s important to recognize that it’s not truly unattainable. Examining past mistakes and avoiding them in the future is what makes the difference between a good leader and a great one. 

Steer clear of the most common leadership mistakes by learning leadership advice from top CEOs

1. Not having an employee development program

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of workers said they’d stick with a company longer if that company invested in their career and provided learning opportunities. One of the most detrimental mistakes a leader can make is to not help their employees take the next steps to develop their skills for the future. 

It may be tempting to just assume that training your team members on their day-to-day duties is enough. But without a solid development program in place, you could lose the trust of your team members and risk watching your competitive edge slip away. 

Regular check-ins and constructive feedback are crucial aspects of developing your team. The best business leaders set goals together with their employees and follow up on development plans to make sure nobody feels left behind. Take a look at our article on how to create an employee development program to learn how to implement an effective program in your organization. 

2. Taking everything on yourself 

Remember that you’re only one human being—as much as you’d probably like to, you can’t take the whole world and put it on your shoulders. You need help running your business. If you continue to try doing everything yourself, you’ll make your employees feel like you don’t trust them to do the job well. 

Take a deep breath, relax, and delegate tasks to the capable people on your team. You hired them for a reason—they can handle it. 

If you need more convincing, many CEOs also tout delegation as a major factor of their success. Read up on how the top business owners in the country lead their teammates effectively. 

3. Hiring the wrong people

Hiring decisions are key in creating a successful company, as your employees keep your business running on a day-to-day basis. The wrong hire may not fit in with your company culture, cause major issues in the workplace, or simply be incapable of performing the job up to your standards. 

Remember to vet your hires and take time to get to know them. Hasty hiring can lead to problems down the road. 

If you need help making smart hiring decisions, Homebase has your back. With Homebase you can post jobs, track applicants, and onboard new employees with ease. You can even add screener questions so you don’t waste your time on the wrong fit. 

4. Prioritizing poorly

Did you know that you can be “busy” without actually getting much done? Leaders often end up replying to countless emails, calling prospects, and doing other tasks that can actually be given to another capable employee. 

What are your goals for the day? The week? The month? The year? Start taking steps to achieve them by focusing on what really matters. Effective leaders know how to delegate tasks that would otherwise bottleneck their performance. This way they can focus on more important work and supporting the team where necessary, making them better leaders overall.

5. Failing to recognize and reward good workers

Everyone needs to hear their boss say, “good job” once in a while. Recognizing a job well done and rewarding hard work can boost company morale, increase productivity, encourages a stronger work ethic, and cultivate a positive relationship with you and your team. 

In fact, a recent study found that 82% of people are happier when they’re recognized at work. Not acknowledging star staff members, or not doing it consistently, will ultimately lead to low morale, worse mental health and higher turnover. That’s why a great leader needs the awareness to recognize employees who excel at their work and use their leadership position to encourage and reward strong performances.

6. Trying to make friends

One of the hardest things new managers fail to realize is that you won’t be able to please everyone. When you try to make friends with your staff, you may fall into being overly tolerant of poor performance or bad behavior — and even feel bad evaluating them during a performance review.

In doing so, you may also lose respect and appear to be a pushover. Instead, assert your leadership in a healthy way. You can like your employees and have fun with them, but it’s critical to ensure that they recognize you are the authority figure on the job.

7. Being a control freak

Although your business is your baby, you need to come to terms with the fact that you need help nurturing it. Controlling every little detail and micromanaging your staff will only backfire, leaving them irritated and more likely to find a job elsewhere. 

Avoid requiring boss approval for every decision, as this will only lead to a decrease in productivity. Build trust with your employees by allowing them to make certain company decisions. While you might have your own management style, a hands off approach often works better for everyone involved, because it allows your employees more freedom in their work, while you save time you would otherwise spend looking over their shoulder.

8. Not communicating expectations

Unclear communication gets you nowhere, and if you’re not on the same page as your employees, it could lead to a plethora of issues within your business. If you’re unclear about what you expect from your employee, don’t be surprised when they don’t perform the way you wanted. 

Be specific. Don’t dance around your expectations or leave them with more questions than answers. When you clearly define their tasks, you’re setting you and your employee up for success.

9. Taking advice from everyone

Advice is great— but it can get confusing and counterproductive when you’re getting opinions from every direction. Reduce the noise by limiting your business conversations with a few experienced people you trust. 

This doesn’t mean you’re alone in your work or unapproachable when it comes to solutions, but that you should carefully examine when and where to seek advice. You can have different points of contact for different issues, making your problem solving a collaborative effort without being overwhelmed by conflicting advice.

10. Working without organization

It’s difficult for some people to get organized, but disorder has no place in a successful business. Piles of random documents, a messy office and virtual filing system, and no project management tools will lead your business down the path of utter chaos. Find a way to keep things tidy and easily accessible for your staff and watch efficiency and productivity soar. 

Tip: Homebase has all the tools you need to cut through the clutter and get your business organized. From scheduling and time tracking to employee communication and payroll, you can get rid of the paperwork and start managing your team the smart way. 

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