Ask any leaders worth their salt if they’ve ever made management mistakes and you’ll likely get a “is water wet?” type of response. Every leader, young or old, makes their fair share of errors. If you’re lucky, you work with a team and a boss who are forgiving. A valuable mistake is one you learn and grow from, but the best mistake is often the one you can avoid.
Wisdom can come from falling and getting back on your feet, or through education. Here are six mistakes that actually can teach you something new:
1. The 'no news is good news' approach.
For many leaders, it’s not uncommon to assume that every team member is a well-trained, self-motivated individual who will ask for help if or when they need it. I wholeheartedly believe even the best leaders benefit from mentors, so why would your team be any different? Everyone can use assistance and guidance from time to time. Waiting for your team members to come to you when they need help is like a physician recommending you come in only when you’re seriously ailing.
2. Lack of scheduled catch-up meetings.
“I’ll just catch up with them when I get a chance” sounds like the famous last words of an ineffective leader. While this approach may work with a very small, not very busy team, it’s unlikely to work in a real office with swamped teams and large staffs. Scheduling regular check-in points with your individual team members is critical for maximum effectiveness in guiding them. As a bonus, this regularly scheduled time actually cuts down on the need for the impromptu meetings that can throw your planned day for a loop.
3. Losing your cool.
Perhaps the single quickest way for a leader to lose his or her team is to let your temper get the best of you in their presence. Wild emotional swings will leave them wondering which version of you they’re going to get. This behavior also stifles open communication and causes staff to walk on eggshells.
4. Failure to acknowledge mistakes.
The “know-it-all leader,” “scared to admit a mistake leader” or the “too stubborn to admit a mistake leader” are a dime a dozen. The best leaders acknowledge their mistakes, share them with their team when applicable, and learn massively and quickly from them.
Related: How to Admit When You're Wrong
5. Not asking for help.
If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company with a great culture, there should be an abundance of leadership resources available for you to tap into. Leaders who forgo the free consultation of more experienced peers risk not being in leadership much longer. Worse, they are doing a disservice to their team. Asking for needed help isn’t a sign of weakness in a leader, it’s a must.
6. Little to no focus on outside education.
Much of a leader’s value to an organization is a derivative of on-the-job training. Not to be overlooked, however, is the added value that outside sources can bring to the team. The effective leader constantly searches for ways to grow and enhance their ability to positively impact their team.