December 04, 2018

8 Common Leadership Weaknesses That Can Kill Your Business

Aaron Vick

Aaron Vick
CSO/cicayda

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Being a great leader is more than just about bossing others around and demanding results. The key is to have a balance of sternness, fairness, and collaboration. You don't want to be seen as just another colleague, but you also don't want to become too distant.

As a leader, you must learn from your mistakes, other companies' mistakes, and prevent them from happening to you and your team. Leadership weaknesses lead to messy and costly problems that could be prevented. With the right amount of proactive planning and correcting bad habits, you can grow faster and stronger.

Identify these eight weaknesses to avoid common leadership mistakes.

1. Lack of Feedback

You must lead by demonstration to succeed. You need to be present as a leader, despite having so much responsibility and a busy schedule. Having an open-door policy is a good way to keep discourse open and keep workers from going off of assumptions.

Auditing is another important leadership task that shouldn't be dismissed. If workers feel like you're becoming less involved, they'll be more likely to slip up.

2. No Team-Based Culture

The weakness of a manager is ultimately reflected in their team. Too much focus on individual achievement and management can lead to breakdowns in communication. If you're trying to hit team goals and work cohesively, you need to have built-up trust.

As a leader, you have to set aside group meetings to actively engage everyone together. Weak links in the chain will show up when it's crunch time. Schedule potlucks, contests, and other group activities every week.

3. Downplaying Innovation

We know that consistency and maximizing resources are important for startups. Too much emphasis on optimization inside a box can grow into leadership weaknesses. For example, your company might be really successful at delivering a certain product, but if growth is purely reliant on work hours, it will plateau.

Innovation allows confidence and trust to foster in the workplace. This leads to new ways of maximizing resources or completely breaking out in a new direction. Don't focus on the potential failure or loss of time spent working on new solutions. There are plenty of high-profile examples that demonstrate what happens when you don't push for innovation and get too comfortable.

4. Lacking Identity and Clarity

As a leader, you want your team to know exactly what you're about and what you expect. It all starts with the company mission statement. If this statement is too vague or passive, you won't get the production you're looking for. Their work needs to be fulfilling and measurable beyond paychecks and quotas.

It all starts with how the company is organized and structure. Hiring each worker with a specific expertise and expectation. Having too many duplicate pieces in a puzzle presents too much potential for conflict in the future.

5. Delivering the Right Motivation

We all have a general list of what motivates us in life and at work. The obvious motivators being money, respect, family, and etc. Having a sense of purpose is a huge motivator, too, which we sort of touched on in the previous point.

Some people are motivated by earning potential, while others just need a stable work environment with people they have chemistry with. Hiring opposite personalities can be a big contributor to many leadership weaknesses. That's why it's hard to do everything by the numbers and resumes.

Finally, there is the ideal candidate worker who is motivated by a challenge. If you are trying to grow a startup, you need people who love problem-solving and being part of a team that tackles challenges. These teams handle high-stress situations, which in turn allows you to be a better manager.

6. Forgetting to Delegate

Probably the easiest weakness of a manager to overlook. You spend all day leading, instructing, and answering--you get set in your ways. All of the work is flowing through one channel, essentially, which can create conflicts.

Workers get mad at themselves, you get mad at works, and there's just too much stoppage. By delegating, you relieve the burden on your shoulders and workers become more engaged as a team. Sure, they may not be able to figure out everything without your guidance, but it does instill trust and inclusiveness.

7. Playing Favorites

This is a huge mistake that can lead to downfalls of entire departments. If you are clearly giving preferential treatment to an employee, it will impact the team. It might not happen in the first instance, or the second, but eventually your team will show cracks.

Production could stagnate, company culture will suffer, and you could lose some of your best workers. Just be conscious of how favors or help is perceived.

8. Not Investing in Diversity

Last, but not least, this is something that can no longer be ignored or dismissed. A workplace that lacks in diversity of backgrounds, personalities, or culture is less successful in today's society. Diversity promotes innovation and shows the world you care about social issues.

Be careful not to prioritize hiring based off of tokenism, genuinely try to sort hires by qualifications and backgrounds.

Finding Leadership Weaknesses

All of these examples of leadership weaknesses should give a clearer picture of your role as a leader. As issues present themselves, try to dig deeper and find out if it is just a symptom of a bigger leadership problem. This is especially true for cyclical behavior and patterns of mistakes.

If you're just starting your own business or struggle to grow your business, you might need someone to take a look at how you're running it. I'm someone who has learned from experience and can provide key insights into leadership issues.

We all make mistakes--but as a leader, it is your job to avoid repeating them. 

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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