Common Leadership Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Leadership Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

03 May 06:00 by Gabby Symons


No one ever said leadership was easy, and even the greatest leaders make mistakes sometimes. Whilst you may not always get it right (and that’s completely ok!), being able to recognise and fix things before they get out of hand is going to be a big plus when navigating the twists and turns of the management journey. Whether you're new to a leadership role or have been in one for a while, we believe a little bit of foresight can go a long way. To get you on the right track, we've compiled some of the most common leadership mistakes we see our candidates make, as well as some handy tips on how to dodge these blunders successfully.

Not Putting Your Own Stamp on the Business

When you’re new to a business or a leadership position, it can be tempting to avoid making big changes and simply keep existing teams as they are. We get it – disrupting the status quo is tough at the best of times, let alone when you’re still finding your feet in a role! However, the makeup of the teams helps to steer your vision and objectives, and there will likely be some that won’t fit with the direction the business is heading. Because of this, it’s important put your stamp firmly on the business, ensuring the teams are made up of the people you need to achieve your goals and mission.

It’s worth remembering that leaders are hired to direct the business, and with that comes new talent strategies. Don’t wait too long to implement them, though – many of the leaders we speak to highlight delaying action as one of their biggest regrets. Holding out and letting things continue as they are for too long can lead to problems later down the track, including financial and cultural issues (yikes!). Luckily, taking ownership of talent strategies as soon as appropriate will help you considerably with shaping the teams you need.

Performing the Wrong Role or Failing to Delegate

Something we commonly see amongst leaders that have been recently promoted internally is a tendency to fall back into the work of their previous role in an effort to maintain standards. Whilst this is natural, it can often mean overlooking newer responsibilities and stepping on the toes of people who should be benefitting from your management, so it’s definitely a leadership pitfall you’ll want to dodge.

Our advice for avoiding this is to prioritise hiring and training a suitable replacement. This will free you up to focus on the work you should be doing – not to mention making it easier for you to let go of the reins of your old role.

Spending Too Much Time on a Problem Child/Department

No one likes to see people fail when they can help, which is why one of the most common mistakes managers make is spending excessive time with team members or departments that are underperforming. After all, these are often the people who stick out the most in your mind – the ones who need every extra bit of time and energy you can spare in order to meet standards. But take it from us – spending excessive time on underperformers only leads to neglecting other areas and bringing down performance, motivation and engagement as a whole.

Whilst it’s still important to tackle the issue head on, keep in mind that it's unlikely the solution will please everyone. Do what you can to improve the situation, but know when to cut your losses. Addressing these issues early is always easier – and feedback is usually appreciated – however if the problem simply can't be corrected in a reasonable timeframe, sometimes letting the culprit go is the best option for the business.

Neglecting Their Own Development

Most leaders understand the importance of developing their team, but it’s all too easy to forget that professional development is essential for leaders as well. From our experience, there is no one, at any level, that will not benefit from continuously updating their skills and competencies.

Think of effective leadership like a computer – if it never updated, we would all be stuck using the archaic Windows 95 and twiddling our thumbs whilst the dial up connects. At the end of the day, leaders must be the experts in their fields, and upskilling is vital for avoiding leadership mistakes and obsolete knowledge in rapidly-changing industries. Finding a mentor, undertaking courses or taking part in conferences are all great ways to stay current, as well as ensure you’re always adding as much value as you can to the business.


Whilst there are many pitfalls facing leaders, seeking the advice of experienced peers and experts can help with creating a roadmap for success. Reaching out to Retail, Consumer and Services Recruitment specialists such as People Equity can provide current managers the tools they need to step up their game, and newer leaders the support to maximise their potential.

Above all, remember that even with the added pressures of leadership, no one expects you to be perfect. Mistakes will be made and when it happens, simply assess the situation, learn from it and move on with a new plan to help avoid future mistakes. Great leadership isn't an overnight process – it'll take time but eventually the results will speak for themselves!

If you're after the right people to take you or your teams forward, or are on the lookout for Melbourne jobs, get in touch with us today!