Very few people are natural-born leaders with the inherent traits and qualities that make someone great. Most people have to work hard to develop their leadership skills, often over a long period of time. Still, no one can be a perfect leader, especially when they first start taking on leadership roles. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that young or first-time leaders make.
Doing It All Yourself
If you’ve recently transitioned into a management position, you may find yourself unsure about how to handle your new role. While you used to have a list of things to do that were given to you by a superior, you are now delegating tasks to lower-level employees. It may be tempting to keep trying to get everything done yourself, but that’s not making the best of your time or anyone else’s. Your new role as a manager means that you’re looking after multiple pieces, so you’ll need to assign work to your team. You’re supervising now, not doing.
When you do finally start assigning work to your team, let them do it. You should be coaching people on the best way to do their work, not doing all the work through them. Trust that your team is smart and capable enough to handle what you give them. Let them know that you’re there to help if they get a little overwhelmed, then get out of the way.
Being Too Hands-Off
On the other hand of the spectrum, there’s a reason your team has a leader. Make sure your team is well informed about what you need from them and understands what they need to do. Otherwise, you could end up with a project that’s completely wrong. If you do, you’re going to be on the hook for it, since you were supposed to be the one supervising it.
Being Too Friendly
This is especially difficult for younger leaders or people who were recently promoted within their organization. Too many people overcompensate trying to be liked by their team, so they become too friendly and blur the boundaries. This makes it a lot more tempting for people to take advantage of you, because they know you won’t call them out. It will also make it a lot more awkward when you do have to have a tough conversation with someone, and they might take it a lot harder. Be kind, but strike a balance between being friendly and being the boss.
Not Setting Goals
It’s your team’s job to take care of the little details. Your job as a leader is to focus on the big picture. Figure out what direction you’re heading it, what your goals are and what your timeline is. Communicate that with your team, and let them handle the nitty-gritty details that go into achieving those goals.
Not Motivating Properly
A big part of a leader’s role is motivating the team to keep working hard. This is tough if you don’t understand what motivates your team. While money can be a good motivator, it’s not the only thing. Some people may want more vacation time, longer weekends, or more time with their families during the week. Some people may want more responsibilities or a new title. Take the time to figure out what motivates each member of your team individually.