Mar 12 2021

Five Leadership Mistakes to Stop Making in 2021

Ben Marcovitz

If you’ve clicked on this blog post (hello, by the way!), chances are you are a manager

Whether you are stepping into your first managerial position or are a seasoned vet, you have the difficult job of overseeing and organizing a group of human beings — complex creatures we somehow can’t seem to figure out even though we are them!

Having doubts about your abilities as a leader is natural. Sometimes they are the product of unproductive overthinking and perfectionism, but other times they are the little voice in your head hinting at a mistake you are making.

In my experience as a leadership consultant, here are a few of the top unintentional mistakes leaders make that can cost them an engaged team.

Mistake #5: Valuing successful individuals over successful behaviors. 

Whenever thinking about your “favorite” employees, force yourself to name the basic, replicable behaviors that earned them your favor. 

Talking about these allows others to grow: it is way easier to start “following up on all commitments like Natalie does” than to “be more like Natalie.”

Mistake #4: Making people “earn” your approval. 

Folks work harder to maintain the status they already have than they do to improve it. 

Never miss an opportunity to tell folks (even for the 400th time) the behaviors you love about them, nor to tell strugglers the behaviors you know they have in them.

Mistake #3: Giving new staff a chance to “get settled.” 

Immerse those who don’t yet know “what it takes to succeed here” in the top behaviors of your company immediately. 

Use positive peer pressure: your impressionable new employees should think your top performers are the norm and start aspiring to be like them.

Mistake #4: Withholding recognition.

Instead of never having the time to share compliments, stop yourself weekly and ask, “Any progress folks have made that I’ve failed to recognize publicly?” 

Send out a flurry of one-sentence texts, emails, or Slack messages right then and there.

Mistake #1 Waiting for them to change themselves (and/or apologize for their mistakes). 

Think like an inspiring teacher: it’s your job to tell strugglers which behaviors are a drag and which will make them successful (revisit Mistake #5).

Leadership isn’t rocket science, but it’s certainly an art. Above all, be clear with your employees about the expectations you have of them, regularly express gratitude to reinforce their identity as a “top performer” and watch as their performance continues to grow.

(P.S. I recently developed a self-assessment tool called the Growth Bias Indicator <link to quiz> to help you understand if you underestimate the growth and development of others. Plus, I provide a few tips and perspectives on how to rebuild your mindset.) 

Take the Growth Bias Indicator here.

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