I like to start a new project, a new challenge and the New Year on a positive note. The last thing on my mind is negativity. Mistakes or any negative from previous years are far from my mind. I even try my best to avoid negative words – words like ‘mistakes’. Yet my first blog post of the year has that word – ‘mistakes’. Why am I deviating from this norm that I have created for myself? To ensure you don’t make the mistakes that many leaders often do.
Just before the New Year kicks off, most leaders like yourself may have the opportunity to relax, rest your minds and rejuvenate. This is a necessity to start the year on a positive with a revitalized sense of purpose. However, the more of ponder on your purpose, the more chances that your anxiety levels elevate. You start to think of leading your team and how to be a better leader. You think of all the business opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and the accomplishments you wish to conquer. And before you know it, you’re spiraling down the negativity trap and all your positive energy is drained before you even wake up to January 1!
So in the spirit of staying positive and keeping you from making leadership mistakes, I have to tread on a minor negative. Just so you can stay positive (as odd as it sounds). And to do that here are some of the common leadership mistakes that you should be avoiding.
1. Setting Too Many Goals or Resolutions
Resolutions are a great way to keep a check on yourself and stay focused on your core purpose. However, having too many resolutions and goals can be daunting, burdensome and often overambitious. Having big dreams and goals is perfectly fine. However, having too many can lead you into a trap that’ll just make you feel inadequate. Sure you’re brimming with enthusiasm as the calendar year turns to a new chapter, yet getting ahead of yourself isn’t the solution. Pace yourself. Stay focused on the few. The key here is quality or quantity.
2. Wandering Without A Purpose
If your career and leadership were a journey, it needs a purpose, not a destination. You may wonder why leadership shouldn’t have a destination when every journey does. The difference is that leadership is a relentless and continuous journey with many ups and downs, highs and lows and mistakes and learnings. It’s an experience that can only be enhanced with a purpose, rather than an end result. Sure, you could set targets for the year that your team and company will strive to achieve, however, those targets should be serving a higher purpose. Without an overarching purpose you’re going to be wandering about year after year with no real incremental value added.
3. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Leaders often pick up plenty of advice and learnings from their peers, thought leaders, books and various workshops or seminars. While it’s a great idea to enhance your learning from the experiences of others, keep in mind that what works for one leader, won’t necessarily work for you. Leadership isn’t a hat that anyone can put on and be great at. It’s unique to you, your team, your company and your environment. There’s never a right answer or the perfect solution. From All the knowledge you acquire extract those that apply to you and work for you. It’ll be a mix of various techniques and the right one will be something that you customize to suit your needs and purpose.
4. Success Isn’t An End
While you may have a predefined goal in mind, setting yourself up for failure is to stick to it and nothing else. You simply cannot proceed in life with a tunnel vision. You have to look in all directions and grab at all wins and successes. And then don’t just stop at the wins you’ve achieved. Even if you’re slightly off your target, accept what you have as a win and build upon it to do better. Success is a continuum.
5. Plan To Fail
Here I go with another negative! Well, while you’ve made all the right plans to succeed, what if things don’t go as planned? There’s always a possibility that situations may change, new challenges may arise and things just may end up going awry. What then? If your plan is only to succeed then you’ve had it! Great leaders know that contingency planning is a nonnegotiable. You have to factor in all possibilities when you design your plans to take into account failure as much as success. This way you won’t be caught by surprise and will have a counter action ready to implement.
Every New Year comes along with much promise, hope and optimism for a better and more successful future. Embrace that with the utmost positivity that you can muster and be wary of the common mistakes leaders make when starting off a New Year.