As our world is seeking better leaders now more than ever before, it’s vital aspiring leaders are aware of what to do and not do, in order to lead others effectively.
Those who can lead well are able to:
- Influence others to make new decisions.
- Inspire others to go beyond what they think they’re capable of.
- Elevate the performance of others.
- Encourage others to do new things.
- Provide the necessary support to help others achieve what they want.
Contrary to popular belief, no one is a born leader. People acquire leaderships skills through education and experience. Some people are naturally suited to leadership roles, however they still need to develop their skills in order to be a good or great leader.
On the other hand, there are people put into or given leadership roles who tend to struggle to bring the best out of people and also themselves. The difference may well be that they’re making some fundamental leadership mistakes.
I’ve made my share of leadership mistakes over the years including alienating team members, not being courageous enough to make tough decisions, being complacent, not aligning team members to common objectives, and failing to lead by example.
Thankfully I’ve been able to learn from my past mistakes, which I’ve shared below, and use those experiences to become a better leader.
Mistakes That Will Affect Your Ability to Lead Effectively
- Not knowing the difference between leading and managing. While leading and managing feed off each, they’re not the same thing. This was my biggest challenge when I first started leading teams. Management relates to job competency whereas leading relates to inspiring people. A leader must know when they’re required to lead and when they should be managing tasks or activities.
- Leading from your title instead of leading by example. Poor leaders expect others to do what they’re not willing to do themselves. People won’t do as we say but will do as we do. The best leaders are congruent with their words and actions. The better a leader follows through on their words, the more trust and respect they will build with their followers.
- Not willing to be authentic and vulnerable. Leaders are often expected to have all the answers and know what to do. Great leaders are comfortable saying, “I don’t know but will find out for you” when they are asked something they’re not sure about. Being vulnerable does not mean sharing all our personal flaws. It means being willing to let others see the human side of ourselves, not just the “work” or professional side.
- Failing to make tough decisions. Leaders are required to make decisions every day, some more difficult than others. Powerful leaders have a clear direction they’re leading others toward and sometimes to get there, they know they’ll have to make decisions that’ll be challenged and unpopular. Having the courage to stand behind those tough decisions is what separates great leaders from poor leaders, who tend to succumb under pressure.
- Not harnessing or encouraging diversity. Great leaders connect well with their team members and know their strengths and weaknesses. They’re able to leverage the strengths of team members and assign them roles that are aligned to their strengths. Poor leaders fail to utilise the existing strengths of their teams, which results in poor performance, low morale and disengagement.
Our ability to lead others effectively is an ongoing process, which requires us to continually improve our leadership skills. By becoming aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, we’ll be better placed to make improvements in how we lead others. If we don’t have a high level of self-awareness, we’ll make mistakes that will affect our ability to lead others well and have a bigger impact in the world.
Question: What is another thing that can affect our ability to lead others effectively?
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