Ten Fatal Leadership Mistakes You Can Easily Make

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Mistakes are mostly just a part of learning, but there are ten fatal leadership mistakes. These ten mistakes PROVE you aren't leading and probably shouldn't be either.

That's the bad news! The good news is that it's your choice whether you avoid them. Each of the ten fatal leadership mistakes is avoidable - most rather easily. 

Each mistake demonstrates lousy leadership, proven by more than common sense. Get more information from Harvard Business Review ("10 Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders", Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, June 2009.)

Ten Fatal Leadership Mistakes You Can Easily Make

Please note this critical information from the research. The most ineffective leaders are UNAWARE that they exhibit these terrible behaviors. So, you may have a blind spot, and if that's true, you won't see any of these ten fatal leadership mistakes. Get feedback from your peers and if ANY of these are true of you, take immediate steps to RESET and resolve them

The following video presents 18 Common Mistakes that you can correct. But correction first needs awareness, so take that first step to become a great leader.

Lack of energy and enthusiasm

Do you see new initiatives as a burden, rarely volunteer, and fear being overwhelmed? One leader was described as able to “suck all the energy out of any room.”

An easy way to create a solution - smile more often. Think about it - smiles add energy, even when you aren't bouncy and bubbly. You can also stand with good posture and speak clearly. Doing those two things encourages your body and brain to exert more effort.

Accept their mediocre performance

Do you overstate the difficulty of reaching targets? Are you “sandbagging” goals to look good when you achieve them? Is your mantra “under promise and over deliver"?

While that mantra is not always bad, it's best to determine clearly what is the best result the organization needs and put effort into achieving it. Unfortunately, too much of our society is against exceptionalism and greatness, so this may require a fundamental change in your thinking.

Try this - ask your supervisor what one thing you could work on that would help them the most. The first significant step is to ask. Now, create a plan to make it happen.

Lack of clear vision and direction

Do you believe your only job is to execute rather than be strategic? That is like a hiker who stays close to the trail; they’re fine until they reach a fork in the path. Lack of vision and direction is probably the worst of the ten fatal leadership mistakes.

Click here (Learn from the Past - Plan for the Future) and download the document, which helps you identify some things to work on. Also, study course 1 (Leaders Value Results AND Relating) and learn about THP (THERE, HERE, PATH), a simple yet profound tool to eliminate this mistake.

Have poor judgment

Do you make decisions that colleagues and subordinates consider not in the organization’s best interests?

A simple way to double-check your decisions - know the Purpose, Strategy, and Goals of the organization first. Then ask, "Will this decision help advance our Purpose and achieve our Goals?" If you don't ask or entertain what your colleagues say, you probably lack the critical value of humility.

Don’t collaborate

Do you act too independently, avoid peers, and view other leaders as competitors? As a result, you are separate from very people whose insights and support you need.

Leaders aren't self-sufficient, no matter how much books and media like to portray that image. Instead of making a decision, talk about the decision with your direct reports and peers. If you can't, you are all about "ME," not "WE."

Don’t walk the talk

Do you set standards of behavior or expectations of performance and then violate them? If so, you have some terrible values and character flaws.

You gain credibility with others when you clearly communicate what you expect of others. Before you put expectations on others, ask whether you are willing to do it. Of course, if you have poor values, you won't ask the question.

Resist new ideas

Do you tend to reject suggestions from subordinates and peers? That quickly leads to good ideas that aren’t implemented, hurting the organization.

You don't need to entertain every new idea, but take the time to explore its reasons. Many new ideas are bad, but the one or two that are good can become great. And, just because the idea wasn't yours doesn't mean it is terrible.

Don’t learn from mistakes

Do you fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement? You may make no more mistakes than your peers, but the ones you make, you don't learn from them. You are more likely to hide your errors and brood about them instead.

GR8 Leaders are vulnerable. They apologize for their mistakes and forgive those who create problems for them. Why? Because they have no desire to let the PAST control their life.

Lack interpersonal skills

Are you aggressive (abrasive and bullying), especially if challenged and passive (aloof, unavailable, and reluctant to praise) by not recognizing and praising others? Are you too abrasive or passive when people are underperforming?

You can accomplish some great things when you are nice AND strive for results simultaneously. If you are a "dictator," it will work against you in the long run and often in the short run too. Don't think that nice is the opposite of getting results. But, it is the difference between helping people "want to" versus "have to" get results. Check out course 6 to see how freedom is superior to control for leaders.

Fail to develop others

Do you focus on yourself almost to the exclusion of developing subordinates? That self-absorbed thinking encourages individuals and teams to disengage.

Developing more leaders is essential for the long-term viability of any organization. Yet, "ME" oriented leaders are afraid to develop people because they try to protect their job or position. Yes, your subordinate may turn out to be better than you. But, a promotion in an organization requires getting someone ready to take your place. And, people that develop people are more often seen as the type of person that needs to be promoted.


accepting mediocre performance, lack of vision, leader flaws, leader mistakes, selfishness, unclear goals

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