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6 common leadership traps to avoid in your new business

May 27, 2016

As business owners we all make mistakes. It’s part and parcel of being an entrepreneur and taking risks.

Sometimes going wrong it’s part of the learning curve we all need to experience. However, there are some common pitfalls that catch many new business owners time and time again. They trip up the unwary, hold you back and stop your business from fulfilling its potential.

Knowing what these mistakes are will help you spot them before they ensnare you – saving you precious time, effort and money. Here, Shweta Jhajharia reveals the 6 leadership traps you need to avoid if you want your business to flourish.

Hollywood’s business bad guys

Cyberdyne Systems, Omni Consumer Products (OCP), and Weyland-Yutani are just three casualties in Hollywood’s obsession with making business the bad guy in sci-fi blockbusters… for anyone who isn’t a film buff, that’s the Terminator, Robocop and Alien franchises respectively.

So how about a movie that turns that old trope on its head? Perhaps in a city of the future there could be an annual contest where young entrepreneurs must avoid the traps of leadership. Call it The Hunger for Success Games.

How do you think you’d do?

Effective leadership is one of the most difficult skills to master, so to be the victorious entrepreneur you’d need to realise that you are in a position of high visibility, that you set the tone for the rest of the organisation, and that your employees look to you for guidance and support.

6 Leadership traps to avoid if you want to grow your business

It’s a stressful position to be in. And with so much at stake, you need to arm yourself with the right tools and acquire the right skills. But most importantly, to win the Hunger for Success Games, you need to avoid these six leadership traps:

1. Do-it-myself pit

Empowering your employees with the opportunity to prove themselves through their work is one of the keys to effective leadership. It’s common for owners to play safe and be unwilling to let go of some tasks. The smart strategy is delegating.

Whenever you’re faced with work that needs to be done, ask yourself if you performing the activity (rather than an employee) really adds significantly more value for your customer(s). Don’t micromanage. Part of being an effective leader is relinquishing control of everyday tasks; you need to apply yourself to more strategic and visionary activities.

2. No-vision deadfall

Don’t be so engrossed in your daily work that you skip setting goals and scoping out the future of the business.

Goals are important. They give employees direction and confidence that the company is heading towards a positive future. They also help you navigate through difficult times.

Personal goals are also really important. Almost every business leader becomes ten-times more motivated to achieve business goals when they see clearly how business targets contribute to personal goals.

An effective way of setting a vision for the organisation is to get your employees involved in strategic thinking. We invite our clients to include their team members in the quarterly strategic planning sessions that we hold; we’ve witnessed how much more effective it is to have the team involved in strategic growth plans. It gives them ownership of the company’s direction, and also a sense of accountability.

3. Too-busy-for-you cage

One of your most important tasks is managing the team. Clearly this means getting people to do their job, but it also means giving staff the opportunity to come to you with their concerns, questions, and/or opinions.

Your business is nothing without your employees. Always be available to them; this shows them that you value their contribution. This doesn’t mean that you become a ‘got a minute’ boss – that can quickly lead to time wastage. But do have frequent meetings with them, and ensure there are channels where they can leave you messages and/or communicate with you directly.

4. So-serious snare

You and your employees spend an average of a third of your waking hours at work. Make the working environment as enjoyable as possible: perhaps a monthly cream tea (or Dunkin’ Donuts delivery); plus a few company outings (bowling, bingo, or if you’re flush Ascot or Wimbledon); and celebrate wins with a shared bottle of fizzy plonk.

Furthermore, boosting morale is a sure-fire way of increasing workplace engagement and productivity. You can find plenty of tips and ideas on doing this in these guides;

5. Quick-fix leghold

When a problem crops up, you usually have a choice between a quick fix, or a longer and more sustainable solution. Be sure not to get caught in the trap of constantly choosing the former. If you do, you run the risk of repeatedly having to put out fires.

If you are constantly firefighting, then you can be pretty sure that you have a broken team model and you need to change your ways!

It is understandable that in the fast pace of business you often do not have time to think of the most long-lasting solutions. However, you must pick your battles, and when it is required, ensure that you choose not to shy away from solutions which best suit your business in the long-run, just because they might take a little longer or require a little more work.

A great example is recruitment. Recruitment is the bane of most business owners’ work life and they often take shortcuts – like hiring the first person that comes along without getting a good idea of what’s out there.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours on recruitment – it just means you have to take time to implement a really good recruitment process, so that you aren’t spending hours and hours on it every time you need to add to your team.

Smart recruitment can make a big difference for growing businesses. Here’s how an interesting, alternative approach can help you to build your business by hiring ‘ugly ducklings’.

6. Lack-in-communication net

It is understandable that as a business owner or manager, your time becomes very limited and valuable. However, it is vital that your workforce is constantly kept up to date with the latest information about the business.

Whether that’s announcing a new hire, explaining why someone has left, notifying about a systems change, or any other business-related announcement, be sure that there is a clear channel for your employees to learn about what is going on.

Furthermore, be sure to let your employees know that the communication is a two-way street. There may be times when staff will learn of information before you do, and if they are in a working culture of free-flowing information, they will be more willing to share it with you as soon as possible. Information fed to you through your employees could very well save your business.

Side-stepping these 6 common leadership traps

Beware of these six pitfalls which frequently snare unsuspecting entrepreneurs and business owners. If you find yourself caught up in any of these traps, make a conscious effort to change your behaviour and leverage the tools and skills needed to escape.

If the working culture in your business isn’t yet ideal, then take a look in the mirror because the work usually needs to start at the top.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group. Despite a competitive economy, her clients across sectors consistently achieve measurable double digit growth (over 41%) and are the most awarded client base in UK. Other articles by Shweta include;

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