Mistakes New Leaders Make

Back in November I asked my on-line tribe a question: “In business, community, or volunteer roles, what are the biggest mistakes you see new leaders, organisers, or volunteers make? Or in other words, what should new leaders stop doing?”

I organized them a bit, but didn’t change them. What would you add to their advice?

Stay Humble

I would suggest new leaders sit with the existing people and processes long enough to understand them before implementing change. This way, they can make more informed decisions. — AC

Thinking that they know more than an older person because they are the new generation. They need to sit in a position and absorb from others before they pass judgement. — MDP

Myself, when I as a new leader years ago, I thought it was all about “me” and I that had to have all the good ideas… very bad move! —  GF

Be Competent

Be organized and focussed while communicating effectively. — TC

Learn to run a goddamn meeting! — EM

Set Clear Goals and Share Them

Made many but I’ll go with when I chaired Josh’s scouts, I didn’t set out clear goals and direction thereby not supporting our fantastic leaders who were investing so much time and effort into our boys. — TC

Not thinking strategically, being too focused on tactics and near-term. Managing instead of leading. Not creating space for authentic communications and relationships. — AK

Be Real

Thinking they have to “act like a leader” instead of being authentic. They become a caricature of leadership. The main task is to not rely on your positional authority. — TS

Ask For Help

Assuming other people’s needs to do the job they have to without consulting with them. A lot of volunteers get in over their heads and miss the details professionals know to cover. Case in point, twice in the last year we have participate as performers at fund raising events that assumed band’s needs were simple and they were ill equipped for the event….Consult with accredited professionals if you aren’t one yourself. Don’t assume there’s nothing to know just because you don’t know. — SM

Learn to Delegate

One mistake I see both new and experienced leaders make often is to get way too deeply into the weeds and try to know every single detail. They need to stop trying to manage the work and start leading the people. As [AC] mentioned above, take the time to learn and observe, respect the history, but don’t be afraid to make the tough decisions. Stop winging it and have a 90 day plan. Most of all, stop talking and listen. — DS

Pay Attention to the Team

The rubber band phenomena. Moving people/agencies/businesses along is all about the tension – too slow and nothing moves because there’s not enough push to move the stagnant along; too fast and the band snaps, tearing the group apart. Finding that balance of tension – fast enough to move forward but slow enough not to cause things to rip apart – is a delicate one. New leaders need to stop trying to make change happen instantly, take the time to learn about that tension, and then move forward. (I’ve done both too slow and too fast far too many times.) — DR

Have Standards

Not focusing on performance and well-being . . . [of] their teams and direct reports. — AM

Make Decisions

My response is a hybrid of others’ responses. I think a new leader might make decisions based on their own experiences pre-leadership. Which is fine, but one has to consider the needs of the many. —  KP

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