Sunday, April 17, 2011

A "bucket list" for leadership mistakes

We should makes mistakes, because we learn important lessons from them.  And "those experiences that are the hardest – those "developmental challenges" -- are the ones from which "we can learn the most," writes Dan McCarthy in 10 Mistakes Every Leader Should Make (and learn from) before They Die.  Dan is basically encouraging us (no, he's daring us) to make at least these 10 mistakes because we'll be better leaders as a result of them.  Of course, the alternative is to avoid these mistakes, but where's the fun in that.
If you are accumulating what I call a "bucket list for leadership mistakes" -- to experience or to avoid -- here are three of Dan's top 10:
  • No. 7 - Trying to be liked by everyone.  "Leaders can’t be their employee’s friends, and leading change usually means ruffling someone’s feathers. Being a leader . . . requires developing a thick skin and being able to take the heat without taking it personally."
  • No. 4 - Not managing upwards.  "A lot of leaders operate under the assumption that 'no news is good news', or 'my performance speaks for itself' when it comes to their relationship with their hands-off or busy boss. While the autonomy may be nice, it’s important to keep your manager informed of your team’s accomplishments, and to build a solid relationship that can be leveraged when needed. It’s a bad assumption to assume your boss is aware of your good work and will be an advocate for your function when the going gets tough."
  • No. 1 -  Take too long to fire a problem performer.  "This is probably the number one regret I hear the most, from seasoned executives to new team leaders. They waited too long to take action on a poor performer. They had their head in the sand in denial, thought they could perform a miracle and save the employee, or were aware of it and just didn’t want to face it."
Read Dan McCarthy's post at 10 Mistakes Every Leader Should Make (and learn from) before They Die.  For posts on related subjects on this blog, read Failing Successfully and Mistakes & How to Recover.
This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at
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