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The Top Mistakes Executives Make in Leading Their Organizations

Four Tips on Common Leadership Pitfalls to Avoid

In today's uncertain economy, many organizations have been making some drastic changes to stay competitive and productive. This means that CEOs and other executives have to hone their leadership skills to make the most of what they have and encourage and inspire their teams to new heights of achievement. But not all executives have leadership down to a science. Leaders might be armed with plenty of technical skills and experience, but may still be making some critical mistakes in managing with their teams that can negatively impact their organization's bottom line.
An employee-centered culture ensures a customer-focused culture. One common leadership mistake is a lack of team-building skills. Honoring the team - each individual - is one of the most important leadership characteristics in today's organizations. If, as a leader, one of my primary concerns is not the welfare of my team, then I'll never know just how successful we can be. That positive regard for your people leads to the best customer service, the highest level of contribution by each team member and the highest profits.
Here are four other common executive leadership mistakes:
Failure to make decisions or delaying the process and losing a competitive advantage. Perhaps being too afraid of making a mistake is a mistake! Most executives make good decisions when they actually make them, but many are fearful of taking any risk, delay too long in taking necessary action and lose important opportunities.
Lack of people skills: Remember that your employees are your most valuable assets and can give an organization its competitive edge. The ability to listen, be consistent and evoke trust is crucial in managing a team and creates an atmosphere of commitment and pride. Be sure to avoid asking for feedback from employees and then doing nothing about it.
Not investing in your people: While most executives see the return on investment in maintaining and improving equipment for their company, the investment in one's employees through providing career development and coaching opportunities pays off even faster. Missing such opportunities to improve morale and ensure retention can eventually damage a manager's credibility.
Wasting time on the insignificant: Use your employee resources and trust your key people with decision-making responsibilities. Giving more autonomy to responsible staff members will free you up from putting out fires that can be handled by others. Also, remember that planning months ahead rather than being caught up in day-to-day details lends itself to effective leadership.
The old adage still applies, 'Criticize in private, praise in public.' A good leader coaches constantly, not just during yearly performance reviews, and is constantly acknowledging the great things employees do while being able to recognize and discuss areas for improvement along the way.

About the Author
Don Wells is the senior vice president and general manager of leading career services company Lee Hecht Harrison's Los Angeles office.

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