Entrepreneurs

7 Common Errors Great Leaders Don’t Make

Companies thrive under great leadership. Teams do too. A great leader has the power to inspire, motivate and support. To build loyalty and admiration and ensure it’s channelled in the right way. But tiny cracks can undermine the actions of an otherwise brilliant leader. They start small and build, until they take over and it’s too late.

Small mistakes are costly and reverse progress. They undo gallant efforts. Here are the seven things that let a leader down, that you won’t see the great ones doing.

Being late

Great leaders are respected and give respect in return. Turning up late to meet someone, in person or virtually, signals a lack of respect for who you are meeting. It wastes their time. It demonstrates a lack of discipline or control; of not knowing how to say no. Expecting team members to be on time but being late yourself shows only double standards.

Leaving people waiting is for divas at concerts, not for leaders trying to rally their troops. You can’t enforce standards you don’t stick to yourself. Showing up, ready to speak and be heard, starts with punctuality.

Inconsistency

Consistency of temperament underpins a solid leader. They are unfazed, unruffled, unstoppable. They can be relied upon. Chaos and disorder rarely lead to trust and stability, so great leaders exude the picture of calm no matter what is thrown at them.

Leaders thrive with consistency of message, character and work practices. Consistent leaders surprise only in a good way. Their reputation for always doing the right thing stands up even when they are not around, and they find their team responds by going the extra mile. Emulating the consistency. Inconsistency breeds fear and mistrust and over a long enough timescale will undermine even the best leader.

Waffling

Coherence, preciseness, being direct. Great leaders know their message and convey it in the simplest way they can. They leave no room for misinterpretation; they leave no margin for error. They say what they mean and they mean what they say and it can be reduced to soundbites and delivered succinctly.

Waffling questions a leader’s credibility and puts questions in a team’s mind. Confused messaging hints that the leader has reservations. It undermines the message they give because doubt creeps in for listeners. It’s less about remembering briefing notes and more about speaking the truth. Great leaders stand clearly for something and are understood.

Being everywhere

Arguing on Twitter about the football score, gassing on Clubhouse, watching everyone’s story on Instagram or turning up to every networking event. Great leaders have better things to do. They are visible where it matters and not where it doesn’t. They always show up for their members and clients and less often for strangers on the internet.

It’s not where you are, it’s where you are not. If you’re scrolling social media being triggered by anything, you’re not there for your team or clients or brand. You’re not doing the most important things. Lack of priority and self-awareness undermines great leadership and takes away the magic.

Breaking promises

I’ll get back to you tomorrow. You’ll have it by Friday. I’ll make a decision before close of play. Small deadlines, waivered. Small promises, broken. It might seem inconsequential but letting people down stacks up. Lacking integrity is the last thing a leader wants to be known for. It puts doubt in the minds of their team and leaves them guessing.

Great leaders decide what to do and do it. They don’t make promises they know they can’t keep. They don’t sleep soundly knowing they haven’t delivered. No excuses.

Led by ego

Having something to prove undermines a great leader. It’s waxing lyrical online, being bitter about a past mistake or needing to be the centre of attention at all times. They crave attention and make it all about them. They take on too much believing that it’s the only way they can guarantee it will be done properly. They hog the limelight and downplay others’ contributions.

Great leaders let go of ego. They don’t seek recognition. They get famous on the success of their clients and team and underplay their own part. It’s happily saying, “I did nothing, it was all Steven’s idea,” and a recognition that the success they live was created by more than their efforts alone.

Leading with fear

The brain has three main sections and one of them makes leaders operate from fear. The lizard brain is responsible for worry and fight or flight so the lizard-brain leader marches the warpath and projects pessimism. It spreads. The fearful aura is felt by their team and it leads to short-term thinking and a culture of worry. Mindsets become closed, to solutions, ideas and brainwaves. Closed to the possibility of a bright future.

For a company to do what no one else has done, it needs a leader to think in a way no one else can. Huge plans and daring visions cannot exist alongside fear, only one can survive in each moment. Great leaders know how to move from fear to love and have tools in place for doing so quickly, before the fear spreads and costs progress.

Being late, inconsistency, waffling, being everywhere, broken promises, being led by ego and leading from fear; the seven small things that can undermine the effect of a great leader if not stopped before they escalate. Eliminating them means polishing the diamond so it’s no longer rough around the edges. Being the example that others look up to and follow. Practising what you preach and leading from a solid foundation. Don’t let those seven things undermine you.

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