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Common Leadership Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Although sometimes those under your tutelage don’t always recognize or remember it, you, as their manager, supervisor, or another key decision-maker, are not perfect. Holding a lofty title and putting you in charge carries a lot of responsibility and there’s really no such thing as “always getting it right.” But there are ways to engineer your leadership role in a smoother direction.

Misinterpreting “Comfort” for Motivation

Let’s be honest. There is a feeling of comfort in having a job and a steady paycheck, particularly after all of the furloughing and downsizing that happened because of the pandemic. But those are not the only things that motivate people. Feeling valued, new learning opportunities, and a sense of camaraderie are among the other important workplace desires.

To avoid this, ask your team members questions like what motivates them to show up for work, if there is anything they need to feel successful, and if there are any other ways you can help them feel more productive.

Not Carving out Bonding Time

Straddling that fine line between leader and a friend can be a bit dicey, at times. But if you step too far into the former, it can cause your team to feel like you’re unapproachable or disconnected from them. Meeting often at the “water cooler” is good, but it’s not enough.

To avoid this, you need to establish some sort of regular bonding time. This could be through a “Lunch and Learn” where everyone can share personal and/or professional thoughts in a relaxed and inviting environment, arranging a team building outing, or scheduling regular one-on-one appointments to discuss any concerns they may have, ideas or talents they desire to bring to the table, and so forth. And don’t forget to share your challenges as well, as it shows that you care enough about them to let the supervisor guard down at times.

Not Making Sure Everyone is on the Same Page

Everyone has different modes of communication and learning, so just because something was said in a meeting doesn’t mean it was heard precisely in the same way. This can lead to confusion, frustration, and/or issues with a client project or event.

To avoid this, make some sort of written, or better yet, an artistically created recap (studies show that people respond better to engaging visuals and video) outlining each step of the project or event process. Specifically outlining the tasks at hand using SMART Goals—Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-Bound—is another way to accomplish this.

Being in a leadership role is not always easy and everyone makes mistakes. But if you can identify potential bumps in the road ahead of time and have a few strategies at the ready, you can potentially navigate them with a little more ease and grace.

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