7 Deadly Mistakes That Even Great Leaders Make

It’s a sad truth of our time that the state of leadership is not well regarded. It seems to be associated with a lot of deadly mistakes.

Most leaders never show up in headlines or polling data. They have good intentions, work hard to be effective, and serve well. But even the best can fall into habits of mind that hold them back and can cost them credibility.

Here are some of the most harmful leadership mistakes you may be making:

A sense of omnipotence. An inflated sense of self-importance can lead to a host of problems—in building relationships, in creating trust, and even in keeping your organization competitive. In today’s world, you have to rely on consensus and shared ownership rather than any individual point of view—even your own. Leadership is all about humility.

Moving too fast. Business moves fast, and sometimes transactions seem to happen at the speed of light. But a pace that’s too fast for too long makes it impossible to keep up and compounds the risk of errors—the small annoying kind and the catastrophic kind. The best leaders know how to work efficiently and meet deadlines, but they also know how to pace themselves and their team and to slow down the process when they need more time.

Thinking you have to be perfect. When we feel overwhelmed, our first impulse is to regain control—and for many leaders, that means trying to be perfect. But perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world of business and leadership, the enemy of creativity, innovation and effectiveness.

Constantly putting out fires. Demands and pressures on leaders are always expanding. Many of the leaders I coach say they feel that instead of being visionaries of their business they are a sort of chief trauma officer, constantly putting out fires, resolving conflicts and sorting through struggles. As a leader, your job is to improve, grow and expand the organization—and to empower people to put out their own fires.

Needing to know everything. In business, as in life, we often have to operate in a fog of uncertainty. If you demand absolute certainty before acting you you’ll avoid risks, but it’s risks that get you to greatness. When you keep doing what you know instead of being innovative and creative, you—and your organization—lose a competitive edge.

Feeling defeated and despondent. Every leader, no matter how skillful they are or how much aptitude they have, will face situations and circumstances that make them feel powerless. It’s important to learn how to be aware of that despair without lingering in it. Leaders need to understand what they feel, and sometimes they need to be coached on how to let go.

Losing yourself while creating yourself. In the past, leaders were occasionally called upon to defend their integrity. Today, with social media and a 24/7 news cycle, everything you do is scrutinized. Don’t lose your ground but stand where you are. If values and virtues drive you as a leader, there is no mistake you will succeed.

The best way not to make these deadly mistakes it to be aware of them, manage them and get a great coach to help you leverage them.

Lead from within: Admitting mistakes, learning from failures, developing strategies and leading from virtues all represent the highest calling of leadership.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

buy now


Additional Reading you might enjoy:


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. MeghanMarie Fowler-Finn

    07. Dec, 2017

    As a new manager I connected strongly with this article. Some of the items I can’t believe people fall into, and some are items I see myself needing to avoid. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply