Congrats on landing your new leadership role! Get ready to implement your awesome ideas, lead a flawless team, and ultimately fix every problem in your workplace. Sounds too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is. In the real world of leadership, nothing and no one is flawless, your ideas may not be the best, and you won’t be able to fix every problem in your workplace.
This reality may be shocking, but don’t be discouraged. You can still make a tremendous impact in your new leadership role while influencing and leading change. However, you must have the right expectations for you and your team to do so. In this post, I’ll expose 8 common mistakes that new leaders make and how you can avoid them.
You’re too focused on gaining respect.
Respect is very important but if you don’t give it, don’t expect to receive it. Let’s be honest. When you’re given the opportunity to assume a role in leadership, there’s a sense of authority and even power that comes over you. At one point, no one cared what you thought and now you have a team of people seeking your direction. Don’t fall into the trap of the power trip. Focus on serving your team and being reliable for them above all. Your ability to do that consistently and well will not only gain their respect, but their buy in as well.
You’re being a know-it-all.
Having all of the answers doesn’t make you a qualified leader. In my first leadership role, I believed that I wasn’t doing my job well if I didn’t know the answer to every question someone asked me. This mindset lead to me becoming a know-it-all, someone who was always right, and even a bit defensive. Imagine what this felt like to the people I was leading. Frustration, feeling ignored, feeling like their feedback didn’t matter. I took my leadership role so seriously that I didn’t realize that I was alienating my team. Learn from my mistake and avoid this mindset at all costs. You don’t need to know all of the answers for your team. Your name isn’t Google and you aren’t expected to be perfect. Just be resourceful, reliable and responsive. Your team will appreciate that much more.
You’re trying too hard to impress your team.
While you don’t want to be the hated boss, you also don’t want to be seen as the phony one either. Your role as a leader isn’t to make friends or be liked, but it’s to impact and make meaningful connections. These objectives may seem like one in the same, but they’re drastically different. A leader who wants the be liked and make friends is a people pleaser; they’ll do what wins brownie points with the team so that everyone is happy. This type of leader will ultimately end up dropping the ball on performance quality. On the other hand, a leader who wants to make an impact and establish meaningful connections understands the boundaries of building a healthy work relationship with their team. It’s natural to develop a bond when working with your team and that relationship will lead to many conversations about families, experiences, wedding invitations, etc. However, your primary focus must be to impact your team in a way that brings the best out of them.
You’re not engaging with your team soon enough.
Employee engagement is not a program, it’s a relationship. Your Human Resources department is not responsible for managing employee engagement, you are. In your role as leader, you have an opportunity to make the employee experience an awesome and rewarding one for your team. Don’t treat them like a number or a robot, treat them like the people they are and care for them as such. Take the time to ask them how they’re doing and most importantly, listen to their responses. Bring meaning to their work by incorporating ideas and activities that matter to them. Waiting until someone voices a concern or a complaint is not the time to take employee engagement seriously. Making engagement a priority every day in your new leadership role will help you connect with your team more and serve them better.
You’re too focused on implementing your ideas before asking your team for theirs.
You’re excited about your new role and very eager to make a difference. Although you’re confident that your ideas will help the team and organization, don’t neglect the most brilliant and effective source of ideas that you have access to; your team. Welcome and encourage employee feedback regularly. You can arrange brainstorming sessions for specific matters or incorporate a suggestion/idea box (which is ideal for those who are more comfortable with submitting ideas anonymously). Whichever method you choose, just make sure your team knows that their feedback is always welcomed and will be fairly considered.
You’re unclear on the type of leader you want to be.
As you’re stepping into your new role, you’re very optimistic about the changes you plan to make as well as the type of team you’d like to have. In the same manner that you define what characteristics and culture dynamic you desire for your team, you must also – if not first – define the type of leader you want to be. Your leadership style is your guide and rubric of your beliefs, values, behaviors, and expectations. Defining and understanding your leadership style will help you stay accountable and make decisions that are true to the impact and goals you’re aiming for in your role.
Do you know your leadership style? Complete the Leadership Style questionnaire in this Toolkit to find out!
You’re trying to be the superhero.
As a leader, your focus shouldn’t be to fix everything. It should be to serve first and that means meeting the needs of your team. One of the most effective habits a leader can have is to identify development opportunities for employees and not fix every mistake for them. It’s like taking over a child’s science project; how will they become confident in their capabilities and fully grasp the learning opportunity if you do all the work for them? Leave your cape in the closet and let the skills of your employees shine.
You’re doing everything yourself.
Delegation is a form of trust in the workplace. There are indeed some leadership responsibilities that can’t be delegated. However, there are other things on your to-do list that can surely be passed along to one (or more) of your capable and experienced employees. Delegation is a very resourceful way to motivate and develop your team. Many employees thrive when they feel trusted to handle an assignment/project that you’ve specifically chosen them to do. There are two keys to successful delegation; ensuring that you’re delegating the right tasks and delegating with purpose.
Download your Delegation Worksheet & Rule List to eliminate confusion about what to delegate so your employees are set up to win & be productive!