3 Leadership Mistakes You Might Be Making (and What to Do Instead)
By Ashley Caywood
As leaders, we are often expected to have all the answers. But leaders are people too—we’re not perfect, and we make mistakes. Here are three mistakes you might be making that could be slowing down your team and dragging down your business, as well as what you should be doing instead.
1 Believing That It’s Your Way or the Highway. Yes, you started your business with a vision and a dream. You may be the most experienced or well-educated person on the team. But even so, that doesn’t always mean your way is the best way. In fact, if your team feels they have to do things a certain way because it is what you’ve directed, then the buck will always stop at you.
Your team is probably made up of a group of diverse, multi-talented individuals. They’re probably also much more in touch with the day-to-day tasks that keep your business running, so it is important to collaborate with your team and listen to their ideas. Chances are, you’ll find that it’s a relief not to have to solve everything.
2 Not sticking to established policies and procedures. You likely have taken the time to define your company’s policies, and maybe you’ve even outlined standard operating procedures, which means you’ve invested a lot of time and thought into the correct way that things should be done in your business. Now, it’s up to your team to follow these rules you’ve outlined, right? Not so fast…you must hold yourself equally—if not more—accountable to your company’s policies and procedures than you do your team.
Yes, you’re the boss. But all that means is that your actions are even more scrutinized than anyone else’s. If your team sees you undermining your own structure, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Instead, lead by example, and your team is much more likely to follow.
3 Overusing your veto. As a leader, when a problem arises, it sometimes feels easy to override your team’s proposed course of action and give them the right answer—your answer. When working with your team, give them room to experiment and learn, as long as they are moving forward in the general direction you want. Only veto them when it will result in a catastrophic error. Believing that you have a better solution is not reason enough to override a solution that is heading in the right direction.
Giving your team room to test and learn enables them to grow as leaders themselves. It offers valuable insight into the thought processes that inform the way you run the business. So, use that veto card sparingly, your business will be better for it.
The role of a business owner can be heavy, and it’s easy to see why you might make any one of these mistakes in an effort to quickly solve a problem or move your business forward. Try to catch yourself the next time you make one of these mistakes. Notice the situation that prompted you to use one of these leadership crutches, course-correct and be mindful next time you’re in a similar situation.
We’re not perfect; in fact, perfection doesn’t exist. But we should always strive to get a little bit closer—for our business, for our team and for ourselves.
Ashley Caywood is managing partner at Zolvy.com, empowering pet care entrepreneurs to take control of their business so they can continue to pursue their passion. Zolvy provides targeted solutions for the behind-the-scenes challenges facing business owners every day. In addition to her work with Zolvy, Ashley is founder and co-owner of Roscoe’s Bed + Bark in Portland, ME, the city’s first 24/7 supervised dog daycare, growing it to seven figure revenues in less than three years. Ashley holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Boston University.