Leadership is, at times, a double-edged sword; it can be incredibly fulfilling when those you oversee succeed and reach their development goals, but it can also be frustrating and stressful as you work to make the former a reality.
To make the process easier — especially if you are a brand new leader — here are a few common, yet critical leadership mistakes. By identifying and avoiding these mistakes in advance, you should be able to acclimate yourself more seamlessly.
Forgoing one end of the spectrum
Generally, leadership style to a broad range of approaches, with micromanaging and complete hands-off ideology serving as this spectrum’s endpoints. Each direct report will typically require a unique leadership approach, but a common pitfall is to completely avoid one end of the spectrum out of fear of being either negligent or totalitarian. If you find yourself in this predicament, rest assured, it is okay to blend elements of the hands-off and micromanagement approaches — the key is to make sure you are doing so in a way that is constructive and nontoxic.
For example, if you have been mostly hands-off with a new report, but he or she is proving to struggle with calendar organization, it may be time to switch to a predominantly micromanagement style. However, make sure you put constructive parameters on this approach; tell your report that it will be temporary until he or she has found their feet and can move forward autonomously, and gradually shift more responsibility onto their plates until this next step is possible.
Not being transparent
Obviously warranted, but consistently overlooked, transparency is arguably the most important aspect of successful leadership. New leaders often fall into a trap of being too empathetic or too aggressive, assuming that either extreme will help establish their credibility as a superior figure. That said, both of these buckets are harmful to the aforementioned equilibrium you should be striving to achieve.
Author Kim Scott refers to this leadership middle ground as “radical candor,” a healthy medium between “ruinous empathy,” “manipulative insincerity,” and “obnoxious aggression;” and all of this boils down to a simple but effective rule of thumb: be direct, within reason.
If, for instance, one of your reports loses a client because they failed to set up a phone call, you must address the severity of the situation while establishing solutions and preventative learning opportunities. If you simply dwell on the issue without a plan for rectification, you will quickly harm your credibility by coming off as a pessimist and an overt aggressor. That said, you will just as easily reach this same outcome if you gloss over the issue — except, in this case, you will be relegated to a pushover figure.