Look, your job may be difficult sometimes. That's why they call it work. But you do your best and plan for the worst. But you're human and sometimes it hard to lead and execute perfectly. Over the past 11 years of advising executives, here are three of the more frequent mistakes made in your day-to-day endeavors:
1. Trying to do everything, not honing in on your talents.
A frequent occurrence since everyone that works for you thinks that you can solve all their problems. Or when issues, obstacles, and opportunities come at you from many directions, it hard not to say no. But you have to say no.
One way to fix this problem is to either say no, or not now. But that's hard to do. The best way to fix this issue is to delegate it to someone below you. You first need to know what key strengths your people exhibit and then you have to apply certain communication/management skills to pass on the task. Then ask them. Most of the time, they are dying to work on more complex/challenging stuff, especially your 'stuff'. Then you can go back and work on things that compliment your talents.
If you don't do this, you'll find that your days are filled with an avalanche of decisions and tasks, many that you're not the best at. And that spells trouble.
2. Less focus on planning, more focus on quick decisions.
When time is short and your to-do list is long, we tend to make more 'shoot-from-the-hip' decisions rather than planning ahead of time. Again, this is a hard thing to do in today's marketplace.
One line of attack is to clearly define key recurring areas that frequently need addressing and to bring your team together to plan for them, rather than waiting for something to blow up. You can segment them into client-based, financial-based, operations-based, marketing-based issues and have key, qualified people responsible to lead the charge. Once areas are planned and options are defined, it's much easier to chart your course in a more educated fashion.
If you don't do this, you'll find that you will spend more time substantiating your decisions with higher-ups, direct reports, and clients and realizing that many unplanned decisions usually aren't the best ones to execute.
3. Not asking for input from multiple sources.
This is the biggest and most important one — and it also aligns with the previous two mistakes. As you get comfortable in your position, it's really easy to insulate oneself from other learned sources when managing, leading, and running the business.
One way to eliminate this mistake is to actively and frequently reach out to people and ask them their opinion on a strategy, direction, or decision. They could be mentors that you've established, previous colleagues that you've worked with, key direct reports you can trust, and even employees that you never talk to. You'll be surprised with their answers — you might find that their line of thinking is completely different from yours. And it might be better!
If you don't do this, you'll slowly find that many people around you will be able to telegraph your position immediately (since you always make the decision) or they shut down completely since you are asking them for advice. Take a chance — listen to other sources.
Which one do YOU make? I'd love to hear what you did to turn it around.