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by Sami Akseli on September 27, 2017

The Biggest Leadership Mistakes


Following our hugely popular blog about bad leadership habits we co-created the list of the biggest leadership mistakes people have experienced. We ran a co-creation arena to figure this out and our participants identified more than 60 different leadership mistakes they have experienced. Out of those sixty the six worst ones are uncovered in this blog.

6. The perfection mistake

The leaders see lots of outcomes of different projects. And consequently they see a lot of things which could be better and improved. This becomes a problem if the leader isn’t able to realize the effort used to achieve the current outcome: the internal fight over the resources, convincing the customers to order the product or work done on aligning the partners to achieve the common goals. After realizing the effort leader also should express their support for the employees who have worked hard on something.  Instead of their support they provide only feedback of things that could be better. The perfection mistake hapens when there is only evaluation instead of valuation of the work

5. The presidential mistake

In a world, where possibly the most powerful man in the world communicates with the “alternative facts” and “truthful hyperboling”, it is sometimes utterly difficult to separate what is true and what is not. All this, however, doesn’t change the fact that deliberately telling lies to support leader’s own views is bad, is wrong, and it is the 5th biggest leadership mistake one can make, period.

4. The Einstein mistake

Whether it really was Einstein who defined stupidity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, or if it was someone else doesn’t make a difference here. Sometimes one doesn’t even need to keep on doing the same thing as it has become apparent already before trying that the plan just won’t fly. The fourth biggest leadership mistake, which we call the Einstein mistake, is sticking on the once agreed plan even though it has become obvious that it doesn’t work and should be rethought.

3. The easter egg mistake

Do you remember the joy of easter eggs when you were kid? You get a chocolate egg, which might not be the best chocolate ever, but you don’t mind it because the real treasure is hidden in a capsule inside the chocolatish egg. It can be a ring, a small toy car, some kind of a figure or maybe a spinning top. The excitement and joy comes from the fact that you just don’t know what you will get (and maybe it bit from the upcoming sugar overdose as well). However, what is good for easter eggs is no good for leaders. The 3rd biggest leadership mistake is what we call an easter egg mistake, which means the leader is unpredictable. 

2. If you make it they will come mistake

As a professional manager one makes a living out of making decisions. In order to make decisions some people rely on intuition, some rely on reasoning, and some rely on combination of those. Eventually business is all about trying to make the right decisions at the right time. The key here being the combination of the decision and time – a right decision is only right if it is made at the right time. Make the right decision at the wrong time and the world isn’t ready for it or the momentum has already gone. The 2nd biggest leadership mistake is decisions procrastination.

1. The puppeteer mistake

Your manager gives you a task to do something. You start to work on it. While you work on it you start to get this feeling that somebody is pulling strings right around you... It almost feels like somebody would be working on the same things as you are. Then it strikes you and it becomes apparent that your manager keeps on working the same issue as well. If your managed had told you that he wants to keep on working the issue you could have collaborated on the task, but as you didn’t know it you actually ended up competing against him within your own organization. All this time you’ve felt like a puppet in a show and now you know the reason. This is the number 1 leadership mistake people have experienced: not trusting the employees’ and doing their work.

All the six leadership mistakes are ones that people have personally experienced. Either they have been guilty of them or they've suffered from these. Do these sound familiar to you?

Sami Akseli

Guest blogger: Sami is on a mission to build the ultimate customer experience. Designing things that take you by surprise and put a smile on your face makes him smile too. Sami gets kicks out of trying and learning new things. He is seasoned marketing professional with extensive experience in B2B marketing, customer experience design and marketing automation.