New leaders are prone to mistakes. They are undeniably living an unprecedented and exciting experience but they often lack the support they need to avoid crucial mistakes.  

By Mia Kollia

Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

Modern global leaders have to face increased responsibilities and great demands that take them by surprise and this has an impact on their teams, which eventually become disorganised on projects that don’t move forward quickly and, ultimately, having consequences on the company's profits which gradually decrease.   

It is inevitable that new leaders will make mistakes - everyone has. These mistakes along with their wrong decisions taught them invaluable lessons. Effective leaders understand that this is part of the journey and learn to find new opportunities through dead ends. But surely, leadership is about more than admitting mistakes. Taking on a leadership role, as glamorous as it may seem, is much more difficult than most people think.

But let's see how some mistakes can be avoided by a new leader

We believe that we should make all the decisions: When we try to make every decision that is needed, all we end up doing is micro-managing. The results of such a viewpoint are very disappointing. Employees become dependent on the manager's feedback, feel that their ideas are not valued and eventually lose their creativity. Strong managers know that there are many decisions that can be made just as well by others and there's no better way to enable others to develop by letting them make decisions too.  

We think we know everything: No matter how smart we may think we are, no one wants to work for (or be mentored by) someone with the "know-it-all" attitude. Really smart managers know that there is always more to learn and actively seek every day to discover new things that will strengthen their position. 

We don’t realise that the core is the team and not us: There is no need for a leader if there is no one to be led by him. The success of a team is seen in the sum of the results of its members. Managers must be oriented towards their team and manage it with the best support they can provide: responsibility for the initiatives they take, improving results for the good of the company, training, rewarding and awakening for new innovative ideas.

We don't realise how quickly what we say or do can be misinterpreted: No matter how well and clearly we may think we are communicating something, we need to verify it. Nothing will "sink" a new leader faster than being misunderstood. It is indeed very important to remember that it is not only words that can be misinterpreted; our actions, in the position we are in, are subject to just as much scrutiny.

We are afraid to take matters into our own hands when we have to: Anyone can lead when things are good. But in hard times, that's when we have to step forward and make a difficult decision. No matter how correct it turns out to be, we will have earned more respect because at the critical hour we didn’t shirk our responsibilities.

We don’t realise that the most important thing is what happens when we aren’t present: This means that it should not be our presence alone that will make employees work, maybe even out of fear. We must have shared responsibilities and show trust in our employees. Our contribution and efficiency will be judged by when there is zero reduction in the performance of the team in times that we aren’t present in the company. 

Finally - something more specialised - let's not forget that the biggest problem new leaders create, especially in the sales sector, is that they try to guide the customer: Our job as managers is to guide our employees, not the customer. We guide our employees so they can guide the customer. If we try to serve the customer, it will be like undermining our employee, and the customer will turn to us later, for any issue, and not to the one that he/she would go to if we haven’t intervened. This is clearly not a good tactic.