Select Page

Mistakes happen and good leaders know and accept this. Some though, can be avoided with a little warning.


Inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison once said,

I’ve not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

There is remarkable encouragement and wisdom in these words for all who find themselves in a place of influence and responsibility; whether that be in the family, community, or family.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with some remarkable leaders. All have been different in style, personality, philosophy and values.

Yet, each one, have in their own way, been invaluable to me and to the organisations they represent.

So, as much for my own reflective learning as it was for my interest in what results in one leader being more successful than another, I set aside time to consider some of the leadership mistakes I’ve either made myself, or have been on the receiving end of.*

Some big mistakes leaders make

Here’s a list (by no means exhaustive!) of the results:

  1. Being fearful of making mistakes
  2. Not being a reflective learner
  3. Having a top down attitude
  4. Being unaware of personal strengths and areas for improvement
  5. Prioritising policy and paperwork over ‘people-work’
  6. Giving a lack of genuine affirmation to others
  7. Not having a life mission statement
  8. Not having a clear vision
  9. Not defining clear goals
  10. Having too many goals
  11. Not reviewing progress towards goals
  12. Changing goals too often, or not being willing to change them
  13. Not managing personal expectations
  14. Not managing expectations of others
  15. Being unaware of personal leadership  capacity
  16. Not having a mentor
  17. Working in isolation
  18. Not having a coach
  19. Not managing well upwards
  20. Taking too long to address a problem performer
  21. Not (really) listening to others
  22. Failing to recognise the importance of emotional well-being
  23. Acting too fast and executing before thinking
  24. Being unclear about barriers to success
  25. Being overly ‘friendly’
  26. Not delivering on a promise
  27. Being indecisive
  28. Not asking for help
  29. Not giving clear feedback
  30. Not building authentic community
  31. Not building team
  32. Forgetting that a leaders aim is to help other people succeed
  33. Recruiting too fast and recruiting too slow
  34. Not delegating
  35. Delegating too fast
  36. Delegating too slow
  37. Delegating without a clear brief
  38. Delegating without providing a support structure
  39. Failing to understand what motivates others
  40. Being fearful of taking on new challenges
  41. Making assumptions of others
  42. Not being courteous
  43. Assuming people understand
  44. Assuming people agree
  45. Not making time to connect with team
  46. Assuming people are on board
  47. Not being stretched
  48. Lacking confidence in others
  49. Lacking confidence in self
  50. Being arrogant – having too much confidence in self
  51. Taking things personally
  52. Fearing over communication
  53. Being too hands off
  54. Only saying ‘Hello’ when followed by a request
  55. Not explaining the process of decisions made
  56. Focusing on problems rather than finding solutions
  57. Not recognising and valuing self
  58. Allowing fear to stall decisions
  59. Ineffective time management
  60. Ineffective priority management
  61. Failing to identify and manage distractions
  62. Not cultivating a relational working environment
  63. Doing all the talking and not allowing space for others
  64. Over managing
  65. Attempting to set other people’s goals
  66. Not valuing difference
  67. Not embracing difference
  68. Not celebrating difference
  69. Not giving sufficient time to key relationships (e.g. marriage, children, friends)
  70. Procrastinating – procrastinating – procrastinating
  71. Postponing difficult conversations
  72. Underestimating the weight of words
  73. Underestimating the weight of moods
  74. Failing to be transparent
  75. Being (too) certain
  76. Not resting
  77. Always wanting to be the centre of attention
  78. Always reminding people that they are the ‘leader’
  79. Putting self-interest before the interest of the organisational goals
  80. Not being true to self
  81. Taking on too much
  82. Not saying ‘No’ enough
  83. Talking about self more than others
  84. Not being transparent
  85. Not setting boundaries
  86. Not knowing when to let go
  87. Placing more value on the outcome than on the process
  88. Being unpredictable
  89. Not being flexible
  90. Not investing in themselves
  91. Not seeking and fuelling inspiration
  92. Being fearful of conflict
  93. Not showing a genuine interest in the life of others
  94. Trying to please everyone
  95. Not resolving that it is impossible to please everyone
  96. Allowing the role or position to shape identity
  97. Not developing habits that increase productivity
  98. Using the same relational approach with different people
  99. Being unable to acknowledge and learn from mistakes

Having reviewed the list and asked some self-reflective questions of myself, I can see where I’ve made some big mistakes in various areas of my own life.

Over to you

Which mistakes have you made and what have you learnt from them? Please share your answers in the comments

Connect with me on Twitter.

*I won’t expose which ones are which.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: