I was reading the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott recently and she said many of us learn how to lead on the backs of our employees. This got me thinking about how I myself have learned to lead and some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.
Trial by Error
I certainly wish I had read Ms. Scott’s book earlier in my life. It would have saved me from making some pretty big mistakes (and by pretty big I mean some utter doozies). Though I had the best of intentions, I inevitably impacted employees in a negative way because I had not found my own voice and way of doing things.
In the beginning, I learned how to lead by watching others and adopting their strategies. So, you could say, my leadership skills came about via trial-by-error. It didn’t take me long to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach does not meet the needs of every individual. Some staff want to move up and be given tasks that prepare them for their next role. Some staff members are happy right where they are. And some are not in the right role at all.
The problem with my initial approach to leadership was that I failed to see that each employee had their own wants and needs. I assumed everyone wanted to be groomed for advancement, and so I “led” through this narrow lens.
Okay, so that approach obviously backfired. But the good news is that all of this trial-by-error leadership taught me to listen to staff and explore what it is that they really want. As a leader, I have to first understand the needs of my employees instead of assuming I know what they already are. And then I have to recognize what makes that employee tick, so I can meet those needs effectively.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes – But Here’s How to Avoid Them Anyway
It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you own them and change your approach to best meet the needs of your team. I’ll leave you with a list from Forbes Magazine’s “5 common Mistakes Most Leaders Make (And How To Avoid Them)
1. Most Leaders Confuse Control with Delegation
2. Most Leaders Care More About the Title Than The Job Requirement
3. Most Leaders Want To Take Credit For The Wins, And Shift Blame For the Losses
4. Most Leaders Work Less Than Everyone Else, And Expect More Than Everyone Else
5. Most Leader Treat Other The Way They Were Treated.
What qualities will you focus on this year to become a better leader? Let me know in the comments section.