[June 8, 2018] We all know that fulfilling leadership duties is difficult and the more senior we are the more difficult it is. But new leaders are prone to make big mistakes that can be traced back to their newness and how they respond to challenges that confront them.
I am fortunate to belong to two organizations that are made up of retired U.S. military Flag officers. Many are long-time friends who cooperate with me on this blog and were recently willing to answer a few of my questions about new leaders. Their observations were surprising in many ways.
What I most gained on this topic from my conversations with them was a willingness to always help others; especially those struggling in leadership positions. They understand that the way for any organization to be better, stronger, and more resilient, is to have leaders who help other leaders grow.
Here are the 20 most frequent mistakes that senior Flag officers told me they saw in new leaders (in no particular order):
- Trying to do too much in too little time
- Failure to understand the leadership style of your predecessor
- Failure to be ready to make decisions on day one
- Understanding where the major risks are located
- Failure to pay homage to the past
- Aggressively trying to prove you are a good leader
- Dodging culpability by blaming outside factors beyond the leaders control
- Having a murky view of the future
- Unwillingness to communicate about the future
- Trying to do everything or improperly delegating
- Ignoring organizational culture
- Focusing too narrowly on the details
- Believing you’re too smart to learn from others
- Over-emphasizing strategy over daily tactics and vice versa
- Forgetting to train, motivate, and reward
- Failure to remember that it’s about the team and not the leader
- Refusal to quickly adapt to changes
- Too reactive instead of proactive
- Don’t take care of themselves
- Are too friendly and try hard to get people to like them