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Lead Your Team Leadership

6 Leadership Weaknesses and How to Fix Them

6 Leadership Weaknesses and How to Fix Them
Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

If you're in a leadership position, odds are you have many responsibilities. Balancing assignments while keeping employees on task can be stressful. All the pressure seems to be on you, and because you're human, you're bound to make a few mistakes along the way.

Even if you're doing a great job of leading your team, there's always room for improvement. Here are six common leadership weaknesses and how you can fix them.

New leaders often either micromanage their employees or take on more tasks than they can handle, all because they don't trust their teams to perform as well as they do.

"Leaders struggle with delegating projects to others, for fear that no one will be able to meet their level of execution," said Max Friedman, founding partner of Hatchery. "This mentality slows progress and ultimately causes team members to feel less invested in the success of a particular initiative. It's important that as a leader, you select a team of people who you truly trust and give them the autonomy to be able to succeed individually."

Heather Monahan, founder of #BossinHeels, a career mentoring group, said that many managers are also afraid to trust their employees with company information, failing to share valuable material with them.

"Deciding to share key pieces of information and watching how your team manages the information is a good recipe for building companywide trust," she said. [Want to be a better leader? Try these simple tactics.]

Being connected 24/7 has become a hallmark of the modern mobile workforce. Constant connectivity allows managers to provide feedback on the go and more easily manage workers across time zones, said Nicholas Thorne, CEO of digital badge platform basno and co-founder of Bitcoin-powered digital signature service BlockSign. The problem, however, is that this can lead to an always-connected, omnipresent approach to leadership – and that's bad for managers and team members alike, he said.

Thorne noted that being available at all times can ultimately disempower employees who feel they should also always be online because their manager is, or believe they need to get their boss's approval on everything.

"Leaders need to be proactive in empowering team members to work decisively," Thorne told Business News Daily. "Just because project management tools, instant messaging, email, etc. allow a manager to participate in every minute decision that gets made does not mean that that's good for everyone involved. Communicate clearly to set consistent expectations, [and] be quick to tell people, 'I trust your judgment.'"

Monahan added that overcommitted leaders are often inaccessible. You should hold yourself accountable only to reasonable expectations. Stretching yourself too thin will do more damage than good, for you and the entire company.

"Creating boundaries and realizing you can't do it all will allow you to cut back on additional commitments and focus on priorities," Monahan said.

All leaders will eventually face the danger of getting stuck in their ways. The current way of doing things may be working, but it's important not to let yourself – or your team – grow stagnant.

"The biggest threat to a successful business is becoming static, and losing a desire for innovation," said Liz Elting, co-CEO of business language services firm TransPerfect.

The best thing you can do for your team as a leader is communicate and instill a clear sense of why you're doing what you do, Elting said. Your company mission will likely lose credibility without continued innovation, and reminding the organization of its purpose will motivate you to collaborate and grow.

To stay adaptive and innovative, leaders also need to listen to feedback from anyone who has a stake in the business, including clients.

"Their feedback is the most valuable piece of information to the success of your company," Elting said. "Make it a top priority to not only solicit feedback from them, but [also] decipher that feedback, and act upon it."

Leaders are people first, and it's natural that they want to be liked, said David Scarola, chief experience officer of business resource The Alternative Board (TAB). But the need to be in everyone's good favor can sometimes cloud solid business judgment.

"A common mistake with new managers and new business owners is that they make decisions that are popular, which are often not the best decisions for the business," Scarola said. "[Leaders] need to sometimes make unpopular decisions. That comes with the territory."

Instead of trying to be well-liked among your employees, seek instead to be understood and respected. Learn how to communicate openly and frequently with your team, and always keep staff members in the loop about the reason behind any decisions, popular or not.   

"The best leaders have learned that if they make the right decisions for their business, even if unpopular, and also take the time to explain their reasoning, they will earn the respect of their employees," Scarola said. "In the long run, this is the best outcome a leader can aspire to."

When you're dealing with performance evaluations, Monahan recommends conducting them based on specific metrics rather than being subjective. You can't stress over being someone's friend before being their boss.

"When you keep the focus on facts, it is much easier to remove the want to be liked and instead shift to the need to perform."

Having a "do what I say, not what I do" mentality is toxic to your work environment. As a leader, you set an example for your team. If you want your employees to respect and listen to you, you must follow your own rules. You can't hold your staff accountable if you aren't willing to work just as hard.

"Leaders often want to create a certain type of environment but don't want to actually participate in the culture they are determined to create," said Monahan. "If you are seeking to create a collaborative environment, ask yourself first if you are collaborating and sharing with others.  Putting yourself in everyone else's shoes will pay dividends."

You don't want to isolate yourself from the rest of your team, so don't be aloof or act like you are better than your employees, Monahan advised. This will only create tension and frustrate employees. Instead, it's better to be open about your flaws with your workers. The more transparent you are, the more authentic your entire team will be, said Monahan.

"By slowly letting others in and sharing failures and challenges, you will begin to appear more real, and employees will begin to believe in you," she added. "When you make yourself vulnerable, you make yourself relatable."

Just because you are in a leadership role doesn't mean you can't ask for help. Mentors are great for busy leaders who want to prioritize and commit to goals. In such a crucial position, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and disorganized, and having someone to hold you accountable can relieve some of the stress.

"By setting monthly meetings with your mentor, you will be forced to report in and stay committed to your goals," said Monahan.

Additionally, communication is key to getting the best out of your company. Your team is there for a reason; when you surround yourself with hardworking employees, you promote a productive environment.

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a recent graduate of Rowan University, where she majored in writing arts and minored in journalism. She currently works as a Purch B2B staff writer while working on her first novel in her free time. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.