Leadership mistakes you most probably made. At least once
When the situation is tense and we need to summon our team quickly, the fastest way is to send them an e-mail with the subject "Urgent." Or "URGENT!" But this is not the best idea.
First, every "URGENT!" causes a small heart attack because it sounds like "THE BUILDING IS ON FIRE!" Words are very powerful, especially when written in capital letters.
Second, you may be tempted to send more and more "urgent" e-mails around which, of course, will ultimately be read as "OK, here he goes again..." And third, where will you draw the line between an urgent and not so urgent situation?
If there is something really important, call your team and solve the situation face to face, that's the proper way to deal with that.
You may be tempted to use apps to communicate with your team. Today there are social networks and apps of all kinds, so what's more natural then to use them? Well, there are two argument against it.
First, while e-mail is intended to exchange idea with your coworkers, apps like Twitter and Facebook certainly are not. Second, think about privacy.
E-mails can be encrypted but everything you post via an app can be read by God knows whom. And you certainly don't want to expose your trade secrets to the world just because you have Twitter app installed on your smartphone.
Now, one thing some leaders like to do now and then are surprise meetings. In an attempt to solve an ad-hoc situation or to see is their team always ready, they are calling surprise meetings. But there is another name for them: a waste of time.
Every meeting should be called because there is some good reason for it, it must be prepared, the goal clearly set, and everybody must know why they are there.
Instead of wasting time on surprise meetings, track your team's performance using other methods and forget "C'mon people, meeting in five!" habit, it is very annoying to everybody.
While at performance checks, another mistake is to check for a project's progress at the end only. You should trust your people, of course, but if you demand just one e-mail reading "We're done," you will step into a big trouble sooner or later.
While indeed you should give your people freedom to do what they do best, you should set up check points along the way to track the progress and, what's more important, to be able to react if something goes wrong.
One of the most dangerous mistakes you can make, and indeed many of us did at least once, is "let it stay this way." In other words: running from change.
If our company is doing just fine, we are naturally tempted to keep the situation that way, without changing things that works. But, we can't live like that forever.
Business change from day to day and we should take into account even the craziest idea we get. We should not have fear of the unknown or we will end behind every other company in our field.
Connected to that, we can easily slip into another mistake: not taking the time to think. Being aware of ever-changing nature of our business, it's easy to step to another side and say "OK, go for it" for every idea out there.
The job of a leader is to think about strategy, to improve processes, think about new products and to try to predict the future in a way. So, we should balance between "As it is" and "Go for it" very carefully.
There's no doubt that the leadership is not an easy task and that we all made a mistake now and then. Unfortunately, a leader is somebody who should make as few mistakes as possible because each and every one of them may be costly.
So, stop for a while, see if you made some in the past and make sure you don't make them again. ■