Building a business is great fun and it can be a dream come true to see a company grow.
But there comes a point in every burgeoning business where you need extra hands on deck. Suddenly, you’re not just a self-starter, you’re an employer.
The bad news is that leading a team is hard work, and if you’re like a great many business owners, you’re falling foul of these five classic leadership mistakes.
No one is perfect, but be wary of making these blunders a habit.
Leadership Mistake #1: Nothing can be done without your approval
You want to see every piece of work before it’s sent out into the wild, even if it’s a tiny email. Sure, you justify this style of management as a form of quality control, but that’s a falsehood. All you’re doing is babysitting staff you’ve hired to do a job and discouraging them from taking decisions.
Repeat this mistake, and staff will cease to feel like active participants in your business. Instead, they’ll grow disillusioned, drag their heels, and bow to your whims safe in the knowledge they’re picking up a cheque regardless.
Make the conscious decision to empower - and trust - the staff you’ve hired to do a job.
Leadership Mistake #2: It’s all about you
You want to be the life of the room, and nothing is funny unless you’ve said it. In fact, your employers should be as dedicated to their work as you are, and should live and breathe their employment 24/7.
In reality, you’re unwilling to admit that your employers have a life outside of their job, and that they’re probably not as invested in the work as you are.
That’s fine. Let them be. Encourage them to talk. Take an interest in their lives. The office doesn’t need to bow to your mood every single day.
Leadership Mistake #3: You change your mind constantly
Every piece of work is subjective - It’s mood of the day
You’re a flip-flopper, and the work needs to be done according to your mood.
For staff, there’s nothing more demoralising than slaving away at a piece of work only to be told it’s wrong, when in fact, it’s exactly what you asked for.
Be clear about what you want and be willing to accept that it’s never going to be done exactly the way you might do it. To do their best work, people need to feel empowered, so let your criticism slide once in a while.
Leadership Mistake #4: You don’t stick to promises
There’s no such thing as your word
You’ve promised a staff member a raise, or pledged to get them extra hands to help out on a project. But when push comes to shove, you can’t be bothered to keep your promise, or simply forget you ever agreed in the first place.
Keep this up and staff will flock to the door. There’s nothing worse than an empty promise.
Reneging on your word is one of the easiest ways to let the seeds of discomfort flourish within your business - so make a promise and stick to it.
Leadership Mistake #5: You don’t communicate clearly
Say it clearly.
You’re incapable of saying anything clearly, yet your staff are supposed to work out exactly what it is you desire, even if you aren’t sure yourself.
Often, you only know what you want when you see a piece of work in your hands. The work isn’t right, of course it isn’t, but you blame your staff member all the same.
Poor communication is a part of life, but good leaders are willing to admit when they’ve briefed badly, and work alongside staff to get it right.
Know what you want? Say it in the simplest terms, and invite questions.