New leaders get into leadership positions by demonstrating greater skills, higher levels of emotional intelligence, better expertise than the teams they were in.
However, for new leaders, mistakes are common and quasi inevitable.
Mistakes show you what you are made of, what you need to succeed, what you need to redirect your career, what you are missing to improve your character.
Wondering what are the common mistakes to avoid as a new leader?
Mistakes don’t directly lead to success but it can show you the way. It is best when they come to light rather than going unnoticed.
When mistakes are made, it makes sense for us to focus on what we have done right, on our strengths rather than our weaknesses.
14 Common Mistakes That New Leaders Make
#1. New leaders ego-trip
Some new leaders want to bring attention to themselves, to demonstrate their self-importance and their superiority.
They usually overstep their boundaries, put down their “subordinates” and come off as arrogant. It is safe to say that:
- They lack self-confidence and self-awareness.
- Their ego is fragile. They surround themselves with yes men and people who strike their ego.
- They are entitled to their position and don’t understand that the position requires work and humility.
#2. New leaders power-trip
Leaders who power-trip lack humility and self-discipline.
They use their new position to impose their authority, to remind their “subordinates” that they have power over them and to exact revenge on coworkers that they didn’t like.
Needless to say, power tripping can damage trust and workplace morale.
#3. New leaders don’t deal with their imposter syndrome
New leaders let their imposter syndrome sabotage their efforts.
Leaders with imposter syndrome don’t believe that they are due to their position, don’t believe that they have succeeded thanks to their gifts.
Some of them are insecure, tend to feel like frauds and are afraid of being unmasked.
Some are overzealous. They want to do things their way, be the catalysts of change, challenge the status quo almost immediately.
Some overwork, they show off their skills and try to prove themselves.
Others expect perfection and not excellence.
#4. New leaders don’t know who they are
New leaders are generally unaware of who they are, how they are seen, how they should contribute and of what they now represent.
That is because new leaders:
- Don’t have a strong hold on their core values, strengths and weaknesses.
- Don’t communicate their core values.
- Are afraid of being authentic and showing integrity.
- Don’t really know what is right and what is wrong.
- Forget that they are role models to their teams and that they must uphold the company values and cultures.
#5. New leaders don’t update their mindset
Becoming a leader is a long and never-ending process.
However, new leaders have to quickly update their mindset to keep up with their teams.
They have to change their focus from frontliner to strategist, to doing from ordering, to performing a task to planning meetings.
Firstly, they must make a pact with themselves to grow and to improve.
Secondly, they must constantly monitor their words, attitudes and actions.
#6. New leaders don’t understand the requirements of their position
Leadership is not about the title or the position. It is about character, attitude and influence. New to their roles, most leaders:
- Don’t grasp that being a boss, being a manager and being a leader are different.
- Think “position” automatically implies “authority”.
- Don’t understand their job description.
- Don’t fully understand or commit to their role.
- Fail to see the bigger picture.
- Get overwhelmed by their positions.
#7. New leaders stop learning
Even though new leaders think that they can handle their position with their old skills and their old knowledge, most of them don’t have the necessary skills to be a leader.
New leaders face new responsibilities that they don’t have the skills for and :
- Are too afraid to ask questions and to ask for help.
- Take too long before initiating leadership training.
- Have to learn new skills quickly, autonomously, and most importantly apply them.
#8. New leaders stick to traditional leadership styles
Autocratic and commanding leadership styles, though common and easy, are outdated, are rigid, and don’t work anymore, especially with millennials.
People are more comfortable and are able to perform at their best with a democratic leadership style.
Today, millennials expect validation, recognition, rewards, a more deconstructed workplace that is fun, relaxed, motivational yet productive and structured.
They want to understand their role, the impact of their contributions at work, to be involved in the decision-making process, to learn continually and to own their work.
#9. New leaders don’t cater to their past and present relationships
Some leaders stop valuing people, start ignoring their teams and their past relationships. Instead, they tend to:
- Disconnect from their teams. For instance, they don’t listen to their team and don’t measure their words.
- Avoid conversations, small talk and nurturing new relationships.
- Avoid collaboration and do everything themselves.
- Focus on the results.
Leaders who don’t focus on people are seen to be snobs, insensitive, inattentive.
Dismissing relationships can easily create misunderstandings and conflicts because people have no barometer to measure your intentions, speech or behavior.
#10. New leaders run away from conflicts
New leaders aim to please at first. They sugarcoat, don’t address awkward dynamics, avoid conflicts, run away from difficult conversations, want to be liked and not respected.
They don’t speak up when they have to. For example, they don’t communicate expectations don’t correct employee mistakes when they have to, are no longer transparent because they are afraid of judgement and of losing their position.
In addition, they comply too often because they are not confident about their abilities.
Even if it is sometimes wise to avoid conflict, this strategy is not sustainable.
#11. New leaders shut down dissenting voices
New leaders must get comfortable with people who cause dissent even though the latter are natural catalysts, and easily take risks.
Dissenting voices within the organization usually have a bad reputation.
They are not welcomed in groups, go against the grain, are seen as not playing by the rules, are stifled, are the ones that end up being fired.
#12. New leaders don’t delegate
At entry level, we want to control people, do everything ourselves, be on top of everything all at once and find it hard to delegate.
Some leaders don’t know how to delegate, don’t want to delegate or just find it plain hard to do so. Indeed, it is a hard task because it requires that they:
- Give instructions to their employees.
- Have faith in the workers, be comfortable depending on others and believe that the work will be up to standards.
- Have confidence in their personal abilities and do not be afraid of being upstaged.
- Do not feel guilty that they are giving too much work to their employees because they were once in their place.
#13. New Leaders fail to navigate office politics
They don’t fully understand the politics at work and don’t take time to grasp it.
It is important that they:
- Address internal conflicts and discontinue previous leadership issues.
- Stay aware of the new power struggles. Indeed, they will be compared to previous leaders and compare themselves to previous leaders, have to deal with jealousy and insubordination at first, have to face judgement and backlash from their coworkers.
- Avoid talking negatively about the previous leader, gossiping about their coworkers with the coworkers.
- Do not try to belong to a group in particular or try to be friends with their former colleagues.
#14. New leaders don’t take accountability for their actions
They don’t take accountability for their own actions.
Instead, they tend to shift blame, find a scapegoat, are afraid of the words “I don’t know”.
Furthermore, they take credit and don’t shine light on their high performing employees.
Last Words Of Advice!
Mistakes are inevitable, are a factor for change and for:
- Humbling us and discovering our authentic selves.
- Exhibiting our vulnerabilities, limitations and blind spots.
- Showing us what works and what doesn’t.
- Removing us from our comfort zones.
- Helping us prioritize and go to the essentials.
- Teaching us to forgive and to be less hard on ourselves, how to explore and experiment in life, how to learn and change.
- Making us more resourceful, more resilient, more self-disciplined and building our problem solving skills.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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