Top Team Leader Mistakes to Avoid

Top Team Leader Mistakes to Avoid
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Top Team Leader Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs
We know from our action learning leadership development programs that all leaders make mistakes. We also know that what matters is how they handle them. If leaders can learn from their mistakes, they have made the decision to learn, improve, and model the way.

Top Mistakes of Team Leaders
Of course, the best way to handle mistakes is not to make them in the first place. Here are the top team leader mistakes to avoid at all costs based upon data from our leadership simulation assessments and a recent new manager training workshop focused on building high performance teams:

  1. Limiting Input and Dissent
    Have you noticed how some leaders live in an echo chamber surrounded by people who have their same mindset and opinions? Leaders may be more comfortable this way, but they are severely limiting points of view that could lead them and their teams in new and more productive directions.

    Even the most subtle leadership behaviors (e.g., always speaking first, discounting ideas, and not being present) can get in the way of people feeling comfortable enough to disagree or speak up at work.  The best decisions and solutions are arrived at after considering a variety of perspectives and having key assumptions challenged by bosses, peers, direct reports, and customers.  Insular leaders lack humility, inclusiveness, openness, agility. 

    Are your leaders proactively asking for different ideas and consistently showing that they are open to input and change? 
  2. Neglecting the Long-term
    Leaders face enormous pressure to meet short-term goals. But focusing solely on quarterly targets keeps leaders from looking at the long-term strategy and implications – a serious mistake. Healthy growth depends upon an overall strategic plan that keeps a business, and the leaders, on a big picture track.

    Just like Aesop’s fable about the good and the golden egg, we have seen leaders increase current earnings at the expense of long-term competitive position, lose top talent at the expense of immediate projects, and take shortcuts that created long-term product problems.

    If you want to keep producing results, leaders have to keep investing in your production capability, the things that get those results.
    Can your leaders balance production and production capability?
  3. Lacking Clarity in Direction
    Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams.  Effective leaders know that it is their job to ensure that team members understand the organizational vision, plan, and performance expectations. Without clarity, goals and accountabilities are fuzzy, employees are confused, and teams are often working at cross purposes.

    Can your leaders create a clear, believable, and implementable enough strategy?
  4. Letting the Toxin of Low Performing Team Members Remain
    Not moving quickly enough on poor performers is one of the top five warning signs of a low performance work culture because it undermines respect, decreases employee engagement, and sabotages team performance.

    Harvard reports that toxic employees cause a whopping 78% of coworkers to decrease their commitment to the organization and 66% of teammates to decrease performance.

    Do your leaders identify, try to help, and compassionately act on low performers?
  5. Managing with Too Heavy a Hand
    We’ve all met a micromanaging boss. Remember what that felt like? If you are like most people, your motivation sagged, and you felt undervalued. Too many managers make the mistake of not trusting their employees to do the job.

    High performing leaders get out of the way of team members who have proven their competence and commitment to doing things right and on time.

    Do your leaders effectively delegate?

The Bottom Line
If you pay attention to the top team leader mistakes to avoid, you will create the level of team trust and connection required to generate fresh perspectives and make better decisions. Building these new habits may be challenging at first, but in these fast-paced and uncertain times, now more than ever it’s worth the effort.

To learn more about the top team leader mistakes to avoid, download 29 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust as a Leader

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance