1. Thinking that your title makes you a leader.
Leadership is a verb. It’s your actions that make you a leader. How do you know if you’re succeeding as a leader? If your people are getting better over time. Are they more capable? Is your lid higher than it used to be? The leader is the “X Factor” for an organization, and your leadership is always reflected in your people… for better or worse.
2. Leading everyone the same way.
Developed leaders pay attention and understand how to effectively lead the individuals on their teams. Not everyone is motivated in the same way. Don’t be the leader who assumes the people on their team are motivated by the same things they are. Be a student of temperament and interaction styles… understanding these things will allow you to influence more different kinds of people.
3. Not working on your own leadership skill set.
Leadership isn’t a talent, it is a craft. Today’s leaders must be deliberate and active in their self-development. You expect your people to improve over time… you can and should demonstrate that kind of improvement in your own skills as a leader.
4. Not paying enough attention to culture.
An organization’s culture can do more than any other thing to drive performance. Progressive organizations develop cultures that actually compel high performance, innovation and talent retention. Remember what Peter Drucker said many years ago; “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
5. Confusing manipulation with leadership.
A lot of the “leadership” executed by non-developed leaders is actually just some form of manipulation. Manipulation can be used successfully and honestly by a leader who understands that it’s a short-term strategy, but it can’t take the place of a real purpose or mission for your team. Developed leaders can discern what their teams need and when they need it. They make strategic decisions that will not put their credibility or their long-term goals at risk.
6. Not understanding that leadership is simply a type of influence.
When you boil down everything a leader can do to succeed with a team, you end up with one word: influence. Exceptional leaders influence decisions, enthusiasm, actions, possibilities, confidence, beliefs, direction, and culture. Influence is what an exceptional leader does, and it shows up in myriad ways. The tactics can and will change; the definition will not.
There you have it, the six leadership mistakes and misunderstandings that you do not what to bring with you into 2017. If anyone has other leadership mistakes they would like to add to the list, please do so in the comments section!