Wednesday, June 19, 2024

12 Leadership Mistakes (And Solutions)

leadership mistakes
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What are the biggest leadership mistakes CEOs can make, and how can you avoid/overcome them? To help you be a better CEO and avoid/overcome mistakes that are often made, we asked business leaders and CEOs this question for their thoughts on this question. From micromanaging to losing touch with their employees, there are several mistakes CEOs can make.

Here are twelve leadership mistakes CEOs can make and how they can avoid/overcome them:


  • Trying To Do Too Much
  • Business Agility
  • Micromanaging Employees
  • Honesty And Integrity
  • Not Connecting With Your Team
  • Letting Go Of Ego
  • Unclear Competencies Needed For Success
  • Not Taking Care Of Your People
  • Lack Of Company Information And Transparency
  • Losing Touch With Your Employees
  • Not Giving HR A Seat At The Table
  • Not Letting Mistakes Happen

Trying To Do Too Much

Small business leaders sometimes try to do too much. They don’t delegate. They do everything urgent, regardless of whether it’s important or not. And because the “grind” is glamorized in media, putting in the work is viewed as a positive. In my experience, business growth and breakthroughs happened when I delegated or gave up the grind to someone more experienced than I was in an area. What happens when you try to do too much is that you don’t do anything well. Working five jobs isn’t something to brag about. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Once the issue is addressed, the business can grow in the right ways. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Business Agility

Sometimes CEOs think that just simply creating agile teams can create Business Agility. That’s not necessarily the case. Organizations need to transform one value stream at a time to fully transform the organization. By transforming the value streams, organizations can better achieve the benefits that come with Business Agility – things like increased delivery speed, improved collaboration, and predictability rate improvements. 

Debra Hildebrand, Hildebrand Solutions

Micromanaging Employees

In working with smaller businesses that are just starting to scale, one of the hardest transitions for the CEO is from being that hands-on manager to the visionary CEO leading the charge. While your team certainly appreciates knowing you are willing (and able) to roll-up your sleeves and stand should-to-shoulder with them, not letting go of the day-to-day is one of the biggest mistakes I see. When you empower your team to do the immediate work that needs to be done, you free up your time to focus on what you do best …. and that likely will result in an acceleration of business growth/results. It also makes the workplace more enjoyable for everyone else. After all, no one likes to be micromanaged, right?

Nicole Spracale, Coaching & Consulting

Honesty And Integrity

It is paramount to the health and security of the organization. Honesty begets Trust, and all things (culture, productivity, relationships, innovation, etc.) flow from Trust. When the top leader in the organization models honesty and accountability, they send a message to all of their people that no one (despite their title) is perfect and that all must strive to be better and thrive together. Trust and Integrity also encourage experimentation and innovation as team members see leadership behavior where it’s encouraged to take risks and make mistakes, as long as you own them and continue to provide solutions. We continue to witness many examples of organizations that fail where Trust and Integrity were breached.

Mark Christensen, LifeGuides

Not Connecting With Your Team

The big mistake that CEOs make as they scale is they don’t make time to get to know their team. Your team has to know that you care about them, or they will work for you for one to two years and then leave. How sad is that? When an employee leaves, it costs you 30% of their salary to retrain, hire, and loss of productivity. I recommend: Have a scheduled monthly one-on-one with them—Ask them how they are doing? What three goals do you have this month? Where can we develop you? Where do you want to be with using three years? What gets scheduled and gets done. There will never be TIME to sit with your team and get to know them. If you develop your team and show you care, your team will be with you for a long time. I have someone that has been with me for five years, and she is awesome!

Trevor Rappleye,

Letting Go Of Ego

Being a CEO later in life has provided me with the insight as a corporate employee for 20+ years to understand and value a good leader. Ego is one mistake I have seen over and over again. When a leader thinks they have all the answers they can be out of touch with employees and customers. How to avoid a disconnect with leadership, choose a strong, diverse team you trust to execute, not a one woman or man show, and it does take a team to reach the top. Be open to feedback. You may hear, but are you really listening?

Melissa Blatt, indipop

Unclear Competencies Needed for Success

One big leadership mistake that CEOs can make is not identifying the competencies needed to be a successful leader. A CEO has a specific job to perform. Can they do the job? A successful CEO understands the job requirements and is aware of their strengths needed for the position. Understanding/acknowledging any vulnerabilities in these needed competencies, taking steps to improve them will increase the likelihood of success: Communication, Relationship Management, Ethical Practice, Business Acumen, Critical Evaluation, Leadership Vision, Consultation, and Leading/Managing Change.

Linda Scorzo, Hiring Indicators

Not Taking Care Of Your People

Working with CEOs across North America, there is a common leadership challenge that often appears. “How do I retain my great talent and recruit strong new talent to my team?” My biggest suggestion is to take care of your people. Your greatest asset is your team; take care of them, or someone else will! One impactful way to do this is to make time to truly connect with them one-on-one. Ask how they are doing, how their family is doing…truly connect on a human level, not just a business level, and actively listen. What do they need? How can you best support them personally and professionally? Another impactful way is to invest in their training and development. If you aren’t growing your people, you are hurting your business today and into the future. Find opportunities to support your existing team and create a culture of growth that will attract the right new team members.

Jodi Low, U & Improved

Lack Of Company Information And Transparency

At the highest level of the corporate chain, you’re privy to the organization’s roadmap. As such, it should be your responsibility to share the information across the company. This is often overlooked and deemed nonessential. Instead, employees are limited to department-specific information, and they don’t feel driven towards any common goals. As a result, employee morale can wane. CEOs can rectify this simply by organizing optional, recorded, quarterly standups with their entire organization. This brings everyone together, gives faces to names on email chains, and helps every employee feel motivated by common goals.

Meghan Tocci, SimpleTexting

Losing Touch With Your Employees

The more you progress in your career and up the hierarchy ladder, the more you deal with reports, numbers, and results. It’s your job, of course, but the risk is that you’d become so detached from the reality of your employees that you’d lose touch with the human component of your company. What does that mean in practice? You won’t be connected to your company’s values, culture, mentality—and once you lose touch with that, you start losing your ability to drive others, motivate them, and keep their trust, all things that should be at the top of your priority list.

Edoardo Binda Zane, EBZ Coaching

Not Giving HR A Seat At The Table

CEOs often make the mistake that everyone will be as passionate about their business as they are. CEOs will work countless hours and not understand why employees gripe about overtime. The best way to avoid this is to have a plan to ensure the CEO has a good HR partner who can support ensuring a healthy workplace culture. And give HR a seat at the table to provide insight on how business decisions could essentially affect their greatest asset—the employee. CEOs mistakenly believe that employees will work like them. Taking the time to understand who employees are, how they work, and encouraging other leaders to do the same will help avoid this altogether.

LaShawn Davis, The HR Plug

Not Letting Mistakes Happen

As a CEO, you often know the answers. It can be tempting to step in and try to save people from making a mistake or an error. The problem is if you always do that, you’re not developing future leaders. Even worse, you may be undermining them. As long as it’s not a catastrophic mistake, consider letting your team actually make more mistakes. That is how they will learn, understand that you trust them, and ultimately become the leaders you hope they will be. Long-term thinking is key here.

Sam Shepler, Testimonial Hero

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