Leaders face obstacles daily, and often, we may not even think much about it. Challenges are just part of what we do. But what about a new leader, what issues does he or she face? Today’s Challenge question is from a leader who writes: What mistakes do you see new leaders make that could be avoided?
The following issues are often contributing factors when you see a new leader have a false start…
Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. People expect their leaders to have a destination in mind. Our followers have many questions for us even if we are new… “What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to become? Why does it matter?” As soon as possible, begin to paint a picture of the future. A partially formed vision is better than no vision at all.
Too few questions
The majority of leaders, new and seasoned, ask too few questions. This is extremely dangerous for the new leader. He or she may make countless bad assumptions that could be avoided with some carefully crafted questions: What are the biggest opportunities around here? What’s your favorite, and least favorite, thing about working here? Etc.
The likelihood of this being a major issue for the new leader is in direct proportion to the number of questions he/she asks. What you don’t know can hurt you. Lack of context can make a leader look incompetent and out of touch. As a new leader, you are trying to build credibility and trust. You don’t have any chips to burn.
Moving too fast – or too slow
This one is tricky. Every situation is different. And, every situation demands its own pace. If you move too fast, the odds of a disaster escalate. When you move too quickly, you are at risk of missing the context and making bad decisions. The flip side – if you move too slowly, many will question your courage, competence and your leadership. Trust your instincts and remember… Progress is always preceded by change.
Trying to make everyone happy – This is a curse every leader must face and defeat. If you are a new leader, you are probably hypersensitive on this issue. You really do want people to like you – most human beings share a degree of this sentiment. However, leaders know to succumb to this desire dooms your leadership from the beginning. Your goal is not to make people angry – it is to lead with all diligence. If you work to make everyone happy, you’ll work yourself out of a job. If you are a new leader, congratulations! Get ready for a fast start.