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My Top 10 Leadership Mistakes: Mistakes 6-10

March 30, 2010

Here’s the rest of my list:

Mistake #6: Trying to Fix Problems…rather than Process.
Unfortunately, there have been too many times when I have found myself reacting to a problem rather than addressing the process that led to the situation in the first place.  It takes a lot of discipline to rise above the emotion of a difficult situation and try to discern how a broken system needs to be fixed (ever notice how many leaders and pastors run around like firemen, just putting out fires?).
Mistake #7: Putting Projects Before People.
Some people might have the opposite problem (letting their people pleasing needs get in the way of actually accomplishing the purposes of the organization).  That is not my problem.  I am not naturally a people person, I tend to be task oriented and project driven.  Sometimes this has created people problems, some people have been ill-served, even lost in the shuffle.  Good leaders are going to find the correct balance between getting the job done (without allowing critics and nay-sayers to slow you down) while embracing the relational components, which are sometimes going to slow things down in the short term.
Mistake #8: Hiring Too Fast (and firing too slow).
When a position was open that I know needed to be filled and the right person wasn’t available (or I didn’t even know who the right person was) I found it hard to wait. My tendency was to fill the role with the best person or the available person and then hope it worked out. Hiring too fast often netted people cast in the wrong role, people I didn’t really have any chemistry with (or vice-versa) and  people who just didn’t fit our team.
On the flip side, I’ve made the mistake of waiting too long to let people (who had to go) go.  I’ve let problems go on for years because I didn’t want to confront the sad truth that I’d made a mistake in bringing the person on board to begin with. I’ve let problems go on for years because I was willing to overlook a lot in view of someone’s talent or abilities (eventually they all became too expensive, in one way or another, to keep).  And I’ve let problems go on and on hoping they would just get better (they only got worse).
Mistake #9: Delegating Tasks (instead of responsibilities).
I am definitely a perfectionist (in recovery) and revert to type when things start to go wrong, or even look like they might. In perfectionist mode I know in my mind the way it should be, how it should look, what is really the best way and it all depends on me if its going to happen. Of course, I’m not that good and at this point many (most) things around here are done better by others.  Our organization has grown as I have allowed others to grow in their responsibilities and not micromanaged them. 
Mistake #10: Waiting Until There’s a Problem to Provide Feedback
My mistake here was that if things were going well, if I perceived people were doing their jobs I just took it for granted and kept going. If things were not going well, if something went wrong, then I would make my presence felt.  One of my biggest mistakes as a leader has been withholding encouragement when someone delivers (but never failing to speak up when someone fails).  How much encouragement do people need?  As much as you can give them and more than that.

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