THE BLOG

New as a Leader? Avoid These Three Common Mistakes

02/09/2015 04:11 pm ET | Updated Apr 11, 2015

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Being a newly appointed leader is something to be proud of. You've been noticed. People believe in you.

When looking back, we often talk about the feeling we had when we were promoted into a leadership position for the first time. First, the sense of happiness and excitement but soon that tingling feeling of uncertainty: "What now? Do I need to change my behavior? Are people satisfied to get me as their leader?" And about a hundred other thoughts... But we did not know whom to ask or where to look to find advice, so we just jumped right into it. The hard way. Like most people still do.

Getting to learn about other people's experiences is valuable in many ways. So, if you would like some input, read on. We've made a short list for you with three common mistakes we see that many leaders make. Remember -- being a good leader is one of the most important ambitions you can have. And if this blog post can make the journey easier for you -- great!

One characteristic of today's successful leader lies in their ability to be humble.This means listening to people and to be genuinely curious. Remember that the job you have is not yours permanently. So be humble enough to admit mistakes, learn from them, and improve. 2015-01-21-WeAllMakeMistakes.png

Because one thing is for sure -- we all make mistakes. What differentiates the winners from the losers is what we do next. You must learn from your mistakes.

  1. Treating leadership as if it were a popularity contest. It is easy to think that you must please everyone, all the time. But this will cause trouble for you. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being popular, but it is more important to be respected.You gain respect by being predictable, clear in your communication and by your ability to make the necessary decisions. Even if those decisions are not popular for everyone. Did you know that most people actually accept unpopular decisions? The only caveat is that the reason for the decision, however unpopular, was clearly communicated. Another factor in their acceptance is that they were asked for their input before the decision was made.
  2. Running too fast for your organization or team. We see this all the time. It is a common pit-fall for a new leader. The leader is full of enthusiasm and energy, knows exactly where to head... and starts running. But if you do not take the necessary time to get buy-in, you will leave the team in a vacuum. Be enthusiastic -- but also realistic. The more time spent involving your team in the beginning of the process, the easier it will be to execute and move the team forward later on. Involvement is the key to speeding up development. If you feel it goes too slow in the beginning, just know that you will gain speed as engagement continues to build momentum.
  3. Neglecting the importance of the culture. It is important to acknowledge and be aware of the important cultural drivers in your organization or team. We all know the quote: "Culture eats strategy for lunch." But even more important; it's the culture that defines your ability to execute on the strategy! Make sure you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your team's culture. Start improving necessary cultural drivers to ensure forward movement.

Being authentic is an important part of involving leadership. Also daring to be vulnerable is a valuable asset to succeed as a leader from now on.

When just starting out as a new or even inexperienced leader, it is smart to accept that you probably will make some mistakes. Even though it's difficult, dare to show your vulnerability and be open towards your team that this might happen.

Let your team know that you are all in this together, and that you actually want their feedback. By communicating in this way, you are encouraging a more involving culture that will reap rewards for the organization in the long and short term. It will also give you more space to steer the ship in the direction you want to go.

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or to get all the credit for doing it.

-- Andrew Carnegie

Did you like this? Read more about involving leadership in the blog "Become 'the Hottest' Leader You Know."