Leaders are made, not born… which makes it tough when you start a company and have little to no management experience. For many entrepreneurs the “business plan” stuff is the easy part; managing employees and leading a team involves a very steep learning curve.
Instead of waiting learning from your mistakes, take the easier route and learn from a few of the biggest leadership mistakes.
∙ Too many positives equal a negative. There are tons of positives for a new project, and your employees should be excited, but for some reason they seem wary. Why? Employees instinctively look for the downside because there is always a downside—and downsides always flow downhill. Share the negatives too. Freely describe the downsides. Sharing the positives is fun; sharing potential negatives is essential. While it isn’t easy to show doubt, your employees will respect you for it.
∙ Results come and go but feelings are forever. Make decisions based on data, but lead based on feelings and emotions. When you make a decision, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made based on faulty data or inaccurate projections. You’ll never recover from damage to an employee’s self esteem.
∙ Data is accurate, but sometimes your employees are right. Some decisions should be based on more than analysis, logic, and reasoning. Ideas and decisions are eventually carried out by people, and every employee has a different set of skills, emotions, motivations, and agendas. Leadership decisions should certainly be driven by data, but great leadership decisions can be messy and at times counter-intuitive. If your employees don’t agree with you, ask why. Don’t simply defend your position—find out what they know and why they feel the way they do. No one knows everything, and the only way we learn is when we shut up and listen.