Do You Make These 4 Mistakes When Leading?

by  John Bossong  |  Leadership Coaching

Let’s review the leadership errors that hurt our credibility when we lead.

Leadership errors get magnified.  Why? Because it’s easy for people to point fingers and blame.  When leaders make mistakes, they stand out.  They impact the entire organization.

There are some leadership errors that are not intentional, and even then some people will still assume you’re incompetent.

So, let’s take a look at four leadership errors that you never want to make.

1. Delegate finding and developing leaders

This has deep ramifications for the future of the organization.  You are the leader.   Finding and developing future leaders is your responsibility.  Don’t delegate it.

  •  This starts with the interview and assessment process.
  • You are not replacing the Human Resources department, but you should have a hands on approach.  This increases the chances of hiring great people.
  • Most interview processes are too short.  Spend a lot of time and have multiple interviews.   Don’t hire someone after one meeting.
  • You can’t spend too much time hiring and developing people.  It’s that important.

2. Confuse management with leadership

Most organizations are over managed and under led.  These are two distinctive and complimentary systems of action.

  • Leaders press for change.  Managers promote stability.
  • Leaders provide inspiration, vision and set direction.
  • Leaders prepare organizations for change and help them cope with it.
  • Leaders align people (remove bureaucracy).  Managers focus on organizing and staffing (utilizing systems and manuals).
  • Leaders motivate people.  Managers control and problem solve.
  • Leaders recognize and reward success.

3.  Fail to create or institutionalize a culture of leadership within the organization

Creating the proper culture to develop leaders starts at the top.  It’s the leaders’ responsibility to create the culture to grow future leaders.  Here are 8 things that will prevent this from happening:

  • Not enabling employees to take risks.
  • Not challenging the status quo.
  • Failing to build unity and loyalty.
  • Not creating the vision early enough.
  • Following a manual rather than taking care of the customer.
  • Failing to create new products and ideas.
  • Failing to provide growth and development opportunities.
  • Not being fanatical about the culture – talk about it all the time.

4. Fail to clearly communicate the vision of the organization

This needs to be done early and often.  Leaders need to clearly communicate the vision and direction of the organization.   Here are 3 things that happen when this is not done.

  • Employees don’t know the organization’s why.  For further information on this, please visit Simon Sinek’s web site.
  • The organization (collection of people) doesn’t take on the personality of its leader.  This happens in great organizations like Apple with Steve Jobs.
  • Leaders don’t create a strong sense of community, belief and belonging.

What errors or mistakes would you add to this list?

Photo Credit © Deklofenak –

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What People Are Saying

Glen Gaugh  |  19 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Great post. I appreciate the way te difference sbetween leading and manageing were presented. Because the differences should be recognized, but I don’t think management should be downplayed.

And on that note- leaders always develop people, or that should be the case. #1 shouldn’t be taken for granted at all.

Thanks again John!

John Bossong  |  19 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Glen – thanks for your comments. First, I’ve probably made all these errors multiple times, so I’m as guilty as any other leader. I agree with you, management is really important and shouldn’t be downplayed. They are different though. Your comment on developing people is great. Certainly a key for great leadership.

Thanks again for you input and contributions.

Suzanne  |  21 Sep 2012  |  Reply

John, You are so right that leadership starts at the top. I was at an event yesterday and had a conversation with a business owner who has a reputation of being a poor example. In our talk he told me several things that made me think that it’s no wonder his employees keep resigning. Suzanne

John Bossong  |  21 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Suzanne, it sounds like he lived up to his reputation. Thanks for your comments and input. People typically quit their leaders, not the organizations they work for.

Take care,

Jonathan Moss  |  21 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Great Article John!

John Bossong  |  21 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Jonathan. Take care, we’ll get together soon in Nashville.


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