“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

~ Albert Einstein

You’ve heard the saying – Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. However, not all mistakes are inevitable. Leaders who learn from the mistakes of others, are one step ahead of the game! Following are seven common leadership mistakes you can avoid.

  1. Being the anti-micromanger – Although micromanaging your employees can be completely counterproductive, going to the other extreme is a mistake many leaders make. Finding the balance between “hands off” leadership and micromanagement is difficult. Make sure your employees not only have direction, but also the support they need from you through the entire project or task.

  2. Lack of goal definition – Failure to clearly define goals is another common leadership mistake. Without clearly defined goals, your employees won’t know exactly what tasks they need to accomplish. With the increasing demands on employees to take on more responsibilities, this means your employees likely have a very full plate. Without specific goals, they may find it hard to prioritize and work efficiently and effectively.

  3. Providing little to no positive feedback – When your employees aren’t doing well, you let them know the areas where they need to improve, right? It’s just as important to let them know when they’re doing things right as well! Failing to compliment employees is a common leadership mistake you can easily avoid. Take time to acknowledge your employee’s hard work, not only when they go above-and-beyond, but when they do their everyday tasks as well. It’ll let them know you appreciate them and help keep them motivated.

  4. Failing to understand what motivates your employees – We may believe money makes the world go ’round, but thinking this is the end all and be all of motivating factors for your employees is a big leadership mistake! Although fairly and adequately compensating your employees is critical, there are other items that are higher up on their scale of needs. Work-life balance, career opportunities, and self-actualization are just some of the factors your employees likely value more than money.

  5. Being a friend, not a boss – This is a tricky balancing act that often leads to a common leadership mistake of being “too friendly” with your employees. Although you want to be approachable for your employees and socializing can help you form tighter bonds with your staff, you have to draw the line with your relationships. In the end, both of you need to understand that you are their boss, first and foremost, and this will mean sometimes you will have to make decisions they may not like.

  6. Succumbing to “warm body syndrome” – You have an open position you really need to fill. Candidates are applying, but they’re not exactly what you’re looking for. As the days pass, you become more desperate, and you get to the point where you feel like almost any warm body in a position is better than nothing. That’s warm body syndrome. However, this common leadership mistake has repercussions beyond simply the position you’re hiring for. A bad hire can negatively affect productivity in that position as well as the other employees who interact and rely on that position. Additionally, a bad hire can damage morale of other employees.

  7. Forgetting your a leader, not just a manager – As Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper once said, “You manage things; you lead people.” Failure to lead and relying on management is a leadership mistake you can’t afford to make. Sharing your organization’s vision, aligning your employees’ personal goals with this vision, and inspiring them to work together as a team toward both the organization’s and their personal goals, are all necessary components of leadership.


CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

 Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.