There are many mistakes to be made. If you are a leader and you are human (not many robots read ThadThoughts), just accept that you will make some.
Thankfully, the mistakes we make don’t have to be repeated. And we can learn from out mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.
Below is a short list of mistakes we can make in leadership and ways to avoid them. This isn’t exhaustive (meaning I likely will make a few more along the way and have more to write about).
1. Not listening to people who have walked the path. The hardest part about being a young leader is that you think you already know everything there is to know about leading in your context. You don’t. The Antidote: Listen to the wisdom of those who have led before you (whether in your company/field or not).
2. Not getting the best out of your team. You can hire well, and fire rarely, but even if you succeed in both of those areas you won’t get the best from your team if you don’t learn what they aspire to and arrange your team accordingly. Good people doing mediocre tasks does not result in excellence. The Antidote: Listen to the aspirations of your team and arrange accordingly.
It may be easier to “chill out a fool on fire, than to raise the dead.” This may entail people departing, but even that doesn’t have to be failure.
3. Not getting the best out of you. Working from habit rather than passion. The hardest part about being an older leader is that you think you still lead from passion, when, without explicit steps to avoid doing this, you actually are only leading from habit. The Antidote: Keep learning new things. Tackle new endeavors and new areas of learning constantly. Read incessantly.
4. Not focusing on the future because you are still reliving the successes of the past. When you work harder to protect what you have achieved than you work to achieve even greater things, you might as well give up. The past is gone. True success is forward thinking. The Antidote: Spend more time “visioneering” and less time reliving past victories.
The problem with living in the past is that to people new to your team, it looks like you are more interested in what you have already done than in what you have yet to do. That’s not motivating.
What about your experiences? Have you learned anything about leading through making mistakes? What have you done with what you’ve learned?