When you become a manager or a leader your responsibilities change. Going from being responsible for your own job to becoming responsible for a set of people is a big change.
This change is even bigger especially if you are a technical expert or a new founder expanding a team.
My conversation with a solo founder of a marketing agency who is expanding her team to support growing business led to this article. While working to do right-hire, right-fit, we also want her to be ready to lead intentionally. I am particularly fond of Inversion mental model. In a world centered around additions, I like to focus on removing distractions, mistakes, energy drainers etc. We did the same, in our discussion to become effective leader. We focused on mistakes, traps that new leader should avoid, and here is that list.
If you are a new leader avoiding these mistakes is a good start to your leadership journey.
1. Focusing on tasks rather than people
You or your company have hired people because they have skills to do the job. Monitoring, controlling every aspect of their activity is not going to help either of you. Leaders motivate and inspire people to do their better, stretch their learning boundaries.
2. Not bonding with people
Nobody likes to be treated as a cog in the wheel. Treating people as means to achieve a job is a costly mistake. Leaders bond with their people to know their strengths, interests and weakness. People thrive when work is like a play and leaders trust them with new challenges.
3. Doing things yourself
You know how to do things, which your team is going to do for you. Hey, that is why you are their leader now. But doing things yourself when things aren’t going the way you expected, is a bad move. Leaders give actionable feedback to upskill their team.
4. Being too busy
97% people respond ‘busy’ when asked how was your day or a week? Aren’t we all? Important question is doing what? People look up to their leaders for guidance, direction, and support. Unavailable leaders = disengaged team. Leaders build strong team morale by connecting with them proactively.
5. Shying away from difficult conversations
Going from individual contributor to leading people comes with increased number of conversations. Apart from solving your problems you are now responsible to solve others’ problems. Leaders don’t shy away from listening to people problems. They don’t shy away from sharing negative feedback.
6. Not developing talent
Skill set is not fixed thing. Failing to recognize this as a leader pushes your team to become stagnant in their careers and disengaged at work after some time. Leaders identify learning opportunities for their people, and expand their skill set. Leaders create leaders.
7. Not focusing on self-awareness
When you lead people, they are expecting clear goals for them to deliver. Guidance of how to prioritize their time, how to resolve issues. If goals, both short term and long term are not clear to you, it will be difficult for you to guide others. Leaders take responsibility of leading themselves. This involves knowing your own strengths & weaknesses. Identifying changes to influence, risks to overcome.
8. Thinking you must be nice all the time
It does not imply that you need to be rude. Leading at workplace irrevocably comes with a responsibility of taking right decisions. Not all will be well liked, it does not have to be. Leaders don’t take decisions to be likable. They take decisions to make progress, influence change.
9. Not having a mentor or a coach
Not asking for help is a mistake we all do some point in our lives. Asking for help is not a weakness. Everyone needs help with something. Leaders take help from their mentors and coach to navigate through situations, to take decision. Everyone needs a coach.
10. Not walking the talk
We all are good imitators, right from the time we are born. It is human nature. At workplaces too, people tend to imitate their leaders. If you are not good at following what you tell others to follow, you are hardly going to be successful leader. Lead by example. Get organized, set clear goals, prioritize, be punctual, deliver quality outcomes, listen. People will follow you.
It is a great opportunity to be a leader. Be an intentional one. Connect with people to understand them, set clear goals, and share actionable feedback. Motivate people to take risks, challenges without penalizing them for failures.
Above all appreciate peoples’ work, contribution, make them feel valued.
You’ve Got This!
I have 16 years of global leadership exerience managing diverse portfolios in multicultural, global environment like Product Management, Venture Capital Operations & Platforms, People Ops, Supply chain & Manufacturing operations, Information Security, and Data Analytics.