4 ways you might be messing up your leadership

Jan 29, 2023 | Articles

If you’re running your own business with success, and your team is happy and works well together, chances are you’ve got great leadership skills. Some of those skills you were no doubt born with, while others might have come about through coaching and self-development.

But being a good leader doesn’t mean you don’t mistakes. In fact, it’s the ability to make mistakes and learn from them that characterise a leader’s attitude towards misjudgement and/or failure. Mostly, these decisions are directed at the business, your team and clients, but as a leader you can sometimes make poor decisions about YOURSELF. And they aren’t necessarily choices you’re making consciously—you often won’t notice them until someone has the courage to tell you, or things simply turn sour for no apparent reason.

Here are four things you might be doing as a leader that could subtly derail your success.

1. You’re too much of a perfectionist

six picture frames hanging perfectly symmetrical on a wall

Striving for perfection is a natural aspect of being success-minded. However, there comes a point where if you don’t let go and accept that NOTHING will ever be perfect, you’re going to get stuck. You’re either going to try and take on too much, for fear of relinquishing control, or your impossible standards and expectations will drive people away from you.

Extreme perfectionism inevitably leads to burnout and an ironic kind of stagnation, where the very thing that makes you successful—attention to detail—prevents you from progressing.

2. You’ve stopped developing

So, here you are—at the top of your game. The business is thriving, staff are engaged and you might even be winning awards.

Welcome to the danger zone.

Why? Because at this point that it’s very easy to let your ego take over completely. You start believing in your own hype and that you can do no wrong. If you fall into this trap, several things can happen—you’ll lose focus on the business, people might be put off and leave, and you’ll (wrongly) conclude you now know enough about business and leadership.

Not only will this approach leave you behind and get you stuck in your ways, your personal life and wellbeing is likely to take a significant hit, too. You’ll lose your sense of the things that are truly important and set yourself up to potentially lose them.

Part of being a great leader is about is acknowledging that you don’t know everything, that there is always some new skill or piece of information you can learn. Having a growth mindset engenders humility and a continued curiosity about other people and the world—things that not only benefit your business, but contribute towards making you a more well-rounded person.

3. You’ve stopped taking risks

man standing on the edge of a cliff

Just as when things are going well, you might assume you’ve done and learned all you need to, when the business has settled into a decent rhythm, it’s easy to think you should just carry on in the same manner. However, an outlook like this is not only going to stagnate the business, it’s going to make you resistant to change and/or exploring new avenues.

Having the courage to even think about starting your own business means you’re a risk-taker. Some, of course, are bigger risk-takers than others (sometimes to their detriment!) but when you find yourself feeling too comfortable, remember that you got to this place by taking risks in the first place. Don’t be scared to take them again, especially because you now have the experience and wisdom to enable you to assess what’s reasonable and what isn’t.

4. You don’t ask your team for enough input

This one ties in with being too much of a perfectionist. An obsession with things being perfect is directly related to wanting control over everything. As we’ve spoken about a few times on this blog, learning to relinquish control and delegate is a key characteristic of great leadership. By transferring some of your responsibilities to members of your team and/or letting them get on with their work without you micro-managing them, you’ll not only gain trust and enable their own self-development, you will have more time and energy to focus on your own priorities.

Another thing an evolved leader isn’t scared of is criticism. Letting your team understand that you’re open to discussions and pointers about the way you’re doing things, and that if you step out of line, they can comment on it without fear of rebuke, is hugely beneficial for the success and stability of a business, and your continued growth as a leader.

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