Leadership — 5 mistakes leaders should avoid

4 min readMay 6, 2022


Leave a Comment / timeghost / By Tim Lauenroth

“He who makes the others beside him small is never great”

– Johann Gottfried Seum

Leadership Managers beware! Mistakes happen to everyone, including decision-makers. What makes a leader a leader and what are the things to avoid in this position? Today we\’re going to introduce you to 5 things that every leader needs to avoid, both when it comes to being in responsible of a team or a department, but also when it comes to other tasks, like making decisions.

1. Don’t avoid decisions

Why do we have a hard time making decisions? Sometimes two choices are so close that you can\’t decide on one. For example, as a manager you have two employees you want to hire, but you can only choose one of them. Decisions can also be difficult for us if we have to make them in an area in which we are not so well versed. Logically, we are unsure which decision is the right one. Nevertheless, a leader cannot avoid making decisions and cannot spend a long time making them.

“It is better to carry out impermanent decisions than to search constantly for perfect decisions that will never exist.”

– Charles de Gaulle

As a manager or executive, you bear the risk of decision-making. The higher the hierarchy, the more difficult and unpleasant the decisions you have to make. Since as a leader you define yourself by making decisions, it is imperative that you make them regularly and without much delay. After all, what are you signaling to your employees when you can\’t make a decision? That you are not capable of living up to the responsibility you have.

In excercising leadership, one of your primary responsibilities is to make decisions.

2. Not knowing the goals of the employees

Everyone has goals in life, both personal and professional. One employee wants to further their education in a specific direction, while another wants to be given more responsibility soon and become a leader. Just as you have plans and goals as a leader, it is the same with the employees on your team. If an employee in your team can pursue his or her goal in the job and to achieve it, the motivation is already there. In the concept of motivation is the word “motive”, that is, having a reason for doing something that you want to achieve.

So what happens if the manager doesn’t know the employee\’s goal or motive? Employees may lose their motivation and enjoyment of their work because they are assigned to tasks that they either don’t enjoy or that don’t help them in their own development. This makes it more important for every manager to be fully aware of employees’ motives and goals. Regular exchanges and inquiries are the key to success.

Ask yourself: Am I supporting each individual employee in his or her further development and the realization of his or her professional goals?

3. Trust only numbers, data, facts

The temptation is easy. Numbers are written in black and white on paper and leave little room for discussion in terms of accuracy. Especially in times when the company is not doing so well, numbers are often used as a basis for making decisions. Ask yourself: How do the numbers come about?

Could it be due to employee dissatisfaction? If employees are motivated and enjoying their work, could that improve the numbers? Poor numbers could be the result of poor employee management, for example. And numbers don’t lie. Nevertheless, as the person in charge, it is important not only to focus on the numbers, data and facts, but also to inquire about the origin or the reason for the result with the employees.

4. Do not admit mistakes to show strength

In employee development, mistakes are normal and important to move the development process forward. Therefore, as a leader, you should be a role model in this regard and admit the mistakes you make. By doing so, you are not showing weakness, but rather showing the employees in your team that it is not bad to make mistakes and to admit them. On the other hand, it is fatal when managers themselves expect employees to do everything right.

Employees tend to see it as a strength if the manager admits to mistakes and stands by them. There should be room for error in every team. However, this does not mean that employees should consciously make mistakes, but rather that the process of “making mistakes and learning from them” is tolerated within the team.

Ask yourself, “Do I admit my faults to others, or do I look for excuses that will make me look good?”

5. Dishonesty in leadership

One factor that goes hand in hand with the fourth point is dishonesty in front of co-workers. If you don\’t admit your own mistakes, hide them, or blame them on someone else, it reflects poorly on you as a person. On the one hand, employees lose trust in you because you say the wrong things. In the worst case, you make your own employees jointly responsible for a mistake you made.

On the other hand, you damage your own image and reputation within the company. Word can get around quickly that you often make up excuses or lies to put yourself in a good light. That’s why it’s extremely important, especially for managers who act as role models and sometimes mentors for employees, to be honest, to be able to explain your decisions, and to be able to apologize.

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