5 Common Leadership Pitfalls and How to Learn from Them

As a leader, you will inevitably make mistakes. You are human after all. While you will slip up from time to time, it’s important to learn from your failures and use them to become a better leader.

Here are five common leadership pitfalls you can learn from:

  1. Self-Centeredness – As a leader, you hold a certain degree of power. You can use this power to benefit your team, or you can become obsessed with your status and subscribe to self-centeredness. You may be tempted to think of yourself too highly. This can manifest in subtle ways, so it’s important that you regularly check yourself and learn to accept criticism in a healthy way.
  2. Technicality Trap – Leaders are responsible for managing their organizations and their teams. However, effectively guiding your team is not the same as obsessive micromanaging. It’s easy to lose sight of your goal when you focus too much on the minute details. To avoid the technicality trap, set and stick to a maximum of three priorities on your list. Give your team other tasks on your agenda.
  3. Perfection Peril – One of the biggest stumbling blocks in leadership is perfectionism; in many cases, it will stand in the way of your team’s success. For example, the thought of complete perfection, and your inability to obtain it, can lead to procrastination. Bringing an unattainable standard of perfection into a team environment can only produce stress and chaos. Set realistic standards, and don’t make them impossible to reach. 
  4. Pessimism Swamp – Leaders have the unique ability to define their team environments. In other words, you can foster an optimistic space or a pessimistic swamp. Whether you realize it or not, your perspective is evident through your attitude. It has the power to affect those around you, for better or for worse. Through your words and actions, you can set the tone of how your team environment will operate.
  5. Vision Void – According to Seth Berkley, “Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.” Without a vision, leaders can fail — and so can their teams. Don’t fall into the vision void. Allow your team to be a part of establishing the vision. Take time to collaborate with your team to draft a simple but meaningful statement of purpose. This is a crucial step in taking your organization to the next level.

The first step to learning from these common leadership failures is to understand where they come from. Steer clear of these pitfalls by checking in with your team. Make it a priority to identify your areas of struggle, and find someone you trust who can hold you accountable for your mistakes. Start small, and ask yourself, “What’s one goal for self-improvement I can focus on this week?”