Being a leader is a lot like writing a novel. Everyone thinks they can do it, but few excel. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be learned. And the most common way to gain that experience is by making big whopping mistakes. Earning a Ph.D. in mess-uppery is an essential part of your business education.
Just ask Dave. The lessons he teaches at EntreLeadership Master Series are culled from mistakes. "We screwed up, that screw up brought us pain, and we vowed to never get hit that way again," he says. "Making mistakes and learning from them is crucial to winning."
Less painful, Dave adds, is learning from mistakes of others. So with that spirit in mind, we're offering a few of the most common leadership mistakes or problems and how to fix them.
1. Fear of Failure
A small amount of fear is a healthy thing, making you stop and think before making any decisions, and, as Dave says, it motivates you to leave the cave, kill something, and bring it home. But when it paralyzes you, it's a huge problem.
The Solution: So how do you get over being so scared? First, recognize that you are fearful and your concerns may be well founded. A decision could cause you to lose money, customers or team members or be sued, but you can't let that possibility drive you. The best way to kick the fear right where it hurts most is to come up with a system to deal with it. Setting a deadline, gathering facts and options, and working out the worst-case scenario are just a few examples of the steps you can take to get over that fear.
2. The Quick Hire
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is hiring too quickly simply because they desperately need someone. It does nothing but create more problems down the road. What's more, you'll probably be going through the same hiring process just a few months later.
The Solution: Take whatever time is needed to find that perfect person for the job—get the right people on the bus. At Dave's, his people are run through the gauntlet before they are ever hired, including at least four interviews, a personality test and a meet-the-spouse session. The result of all that scrutiny is a company full of happy rock stars and an extremely low turnover rate.
3. "Nobody Does It Better" Syndrome
Yes, we know. It's your baby and no one can treat it as well as you. But in order for it to become stronger and grow, you have to let go.
The Solution: If you trust your team members, step back and let them fly, no matter how nervous it makes you. Stop micromanaging them, or they will never perform to their potential. And a lot of the time they'll leave, simply because they won't put up with it. There is an exception to this rule, however. Dave says when someone first joins the team, they should be heavily micromanaged until they prove their competency and integrity. He calls it "training."
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The above mistakes are just a few of the most common. But there are many, many more you'll discover on your own. Just remember, never let them hold you back. As playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." So get out there, mess up, and learn.
An essential characteristic of any great leader is a willingness to learn. And one of the easiest ways to gain knowledge is with our EntreLeadership Podcast. Each week, we share tools, tips and great conversation with some of the top business and leadership experts in the country, as well as interviews with fellow EntreLeaders. Listen now.