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Common leadership traps to avoid

Steer clear of these pitfalls to sustain momentum, deliver high performance, and manage negative disruption. By Priya Prakasan

Leadership can feel like a minefield at times, with constantly changing variables and a need to frequently raise the bar. So how do you successful manage your role in these challenging times? Here are seven mistakes that will inhibit your effectiveness and productivity. Ignore them at your own peril.

1. Ignoring new threats/potential problems
Fire fighting is a key part of a leader’s role. So spotting a potential problem and learning how to anticipate a crisis are key skills to be developed. Good leaders don’t wait for problems to come to a head and snowball into a crisis. They tackle possible threats head-on and see each negative situation as an opportunity to learn, develop, and initiate change.

2. Playing it safe
This is a silent killer. Though it might work temporarily, not taking chances/risks will have a crippling effect on the organisation in the long run. It’s tempting to play it safe, ensuring you don’t have to deal with any negativity, but you’re also negating your chances of success. Make a change in mindset. Stop viewing these situations through a lens of negativity. Think critically and take risks to pursue new growth opportunities. Strategize and execute in a controlled manners so as to limit potential problems.

3. Getting caught up in the daily grind
This is another easy trap to get caught up in. You’re so focussed and busy going through the everyday workflow, the meetings, the discussions, the reviews, etc that you lose sight of long-term goals. It’s time to break this pattern and not get sucked in by the mundane. Practice efficient time management; schedule your daily tasks in such a manner that you leave time for evaluation, enquiry, and brainstorming. Make it a point to pause and do a status evaluation every week to check whether you’re on track towards your goals, as well as analyse failures and successes.

4. Setting unrealistic or vague goals
This holds true for yourself as well as your team. When setting goals, it’s important to ensure they are SMART. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. If you’ve ticked off all these boxes you’re on your way to success. Because unrealistic goals will cause stress and missed deadlines, while vague goals will only confuse employees and make it burdensome for you to measure the growth. To avoid this situation, provide employees with a detailed plan and a specific goal to achieve.

5. Not challenging employee complacency
As a leader you are obligated to set the tone for the rest of the employees to strengthen relationships and drive engagement. When you notice that the employees are turning complacent, initiate a dialogue to brainstorm about possible ways to move forward. Leaders should always be on guard for the first signs of complacency and remind employees about the purpose and goals of the company, change up their routines to avoid repetition and correct poor performance.

6. Stop advocating change
Good leaders understand that change is the only constant. When you do not proactively support and encourage change, you minimise opportunities for improvement and growth. It’s your role as a leader to challenge employees to keep them on their toes, help them develop ideas, be productive, and more engaged with their work. Push for new programs or initiatives to ensure innovation, take the organisation to the next level and help it evolve.

7. Ignoring employee potential
This is another setback that puts the organisation at risk. Development of talent is crucial to elevate the capabilities, competencies of potential future leaders. Focus on development training and foster an environment and culture of collaboration amongst employees to provide them with avenues to explore their potential. It is no longer enough to identify and acknowledge talent. 

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