Leadership and Management Mistakes

These Eight Leadership and Management Mistakes are the most common. Learning from mistakes is essential for success. We all make mistakes. What is essential is to learn from them and to move forward.

8 Leadership and Management Mistakes

  1. Misunderstanding Your Role
  2. Bad Hires
  3. Bad Delegation
  4. Weak Feedback
  5. Weak Change Management
  6. Failure to “Walk the Talk”
  7. Failure to communicate a Vision, Goals and the Milestones
  8. Not understanding that “Culture Eats Strategy.”

“You make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make you.”

– Maxwell Maltz

1. Misunderstanding Your Role

If you are are in a Leadership or Management position, you have a different role from what you previously did to earn your current status. To be successful, you need to understand your new role and what is required for success. What you did earlier with great success, may not be enough for your new role and responsibility.


Management is the administration of a team, which includes the activities of setting the strategy for the team and coordinating the efforts of the team members to accomplish the agreed objectives.

Managers control and direct people and resources in their group according to principles or values that have been established by the Leadership.


Leadership can be added to Management if the manager is also primarily responsible for setting a new direction, vision, or culture for a team. A leader sets and drives new directions and initiatives. Leaders are also managers who need to control and direct people and resources in a group.

Leadership responsibility can be added to the management role when there is the requirement for continual adjustment of direction which requires leadership skills. The controlling and direction of resources to achieve that direction requires management skills.

Management without leadership can be viewed as a role that controls resources to maintain the status quo and is tasked to deliver on the plans established by the Leadership Team.

Leadership without Management

Leaders without practical management skills may be able to set a new direction and vision; however, they need good managers who can do the hard detailed work. Without a reliable Management Team, new initiatives will not be sustainable if the Leader does not also have Management Skills.

The Essential Roles of Leadership

The role of a Leader has many facets. The following are essential for achieving success.

  • Trust: A Leader needs to inspire trust so that the team will follow. To be credible as a leader, one requires character and competence.
  • Vision: A Leader needs to clearly define where the team is going and how it is going to get there.
  • Culture: A Leader has the primary responsibility for establishing the team’s culture. Without a supportive team culture, strategy, and execution are not optimized.
  • Strategy: The role of the leader is to develop the right strategy to get the required results. Strategies are much more than intentions. A Strategy describes what an organization is going to do to achieve a defined end. As well as the ways and means that will be employed to do that. A strategy needs to cover the ‘What’ and the ‘How’.
  • Execution: A Leader needs to achieve results with and through others, using agreed processes. Effective delegation skills are essential for a Leader.
  • Coaching: A Leader needs to be able to coach each person on their team to improve performance, solve problems, develop their potential, and advance their careers.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

– Jack Welch

2. Bad Hires

People are critical for Growth and Deadlines

During periods of growth and new contracts, having enough of the right people to capture the opportunities or meet deadlines is vital. However, filling a vacant or new role too quickly by taking short-cuts can be a disastrous mistake.

Rushing the recruitment process can lead to recruiting the wrong people. People who are not a good fit, ineffective or unproductive can create more problems. A bad hire will slow down others on your team or demotivate the team and jeopardize growth and deadlines. Other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to “carry” the under-performer. With the wrong hire, you will have wasted valuable time and resources if things do not work out.

Bad Hires

After an initial period on the job, these are the warning behaviors that could signal that a big mistake was made.

  • Bad Attitude: A new hire with a confrontational or negative attitude is one of the biggest challenges. Offering constructive criticism is useful in any team, but being disrespectful or insubordinate, endlessly complaining about the new job or company is troubling.
  • Poisonous Attitude: A poisonous attitude does not support a positive culture, and this kind of behavior hurts all team members.
  • Low Skills: New hires who embellished or exaggerated their qualifications and experience will soon hit a credibility wall. Misrepresenting skills and qualifications impacts trust and working relationships. If the lack of skills impacts quality or safety, then there is also a significant liability to the business.
  • Ghost Hire: ​New hires who regularly come in late, leave early or disappear during the day may not have the desired work ethic. Especially, if the job requires the new hire to be physically present for their job. This issue can be exacerbated in a work environment which allows or requires remote working skills.
  • Helplessness: New hires who can not learn the required task or continue to make the same mistakes can use helplessness to escape task they do not like. This habit creates a burden for everyone else.
  • Political: New employees that position themselves for promotions by sabotaging their peers and colleagues can impact a high-performance culture. New employees who generate gossip and sow division can quicky create unnecessary team friction.

Background and Reference Checks

The best protection against a Bad Hire is to verify candidates’ skills and experience with background checks and to use a vigorous process of reference checks. Also, behavioral interviewing techniques by several interviewers is essential for determining a candidate’s depth of experience with a skill.

Avoiding Bad Hires

To avoid bad hires, the following processes are essential:

  • Use a robust interview process with multiple people
  • Diving deep into experience and skills that are critical to the role
  • Use assessments tools related to the job
  • Thoroughly follow the reference process
  • Articulate the company culture and test for understanding
  • Implement a formal onboarding process
  • Ensure the new employee with a mentor or sponsor
  • Introduce regular review conversations to understand what’s going well and communicate areas for development
  • Spend time with new employees, establish a relationship that will underpin direct discussions.

Leaders and Managers can avoid these mistakes by learning how to recruit effectively, by following the process and by being highly selective about the people you bring into your team.

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

– David Ogilvy

3. Bad Delegation

Leadership and Management Mistakes – to be continued with our Next Instalment

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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

– Peter Drucker

Image Credit: Emanuel Leutze [Public domain]