The 3 biggest little mistakes leaders make

Managers, these are the three biggest little mistakes you can make!  If you can avoid these, you are already doing well!

  1. Cancelling, arriving late or interrupting scheduled meetings
  • If you continually find something more important to do than to attend one-to-one meetings or important staff meetings with staff, you are saying that everyone else is more important than your team members.
  • If you don’t attend meetings on time, you give the impression that your time is more important than the rest of the people who are waiting in the room for you, that you don’t value them and you don’t value accountability.
  • If you have to respond to ‘spot fires’ and crises on a constant basis so that no meeting is completed without interruption, it gives the impression to others that you are out of control and you don’t know how to prioritise (I’ve seen managers who think this makes them look important and in-demand, sad to say it does not. Note that this is different to the one off emergency which can happen to anyone).
  1. Not focusing on the person in a conversation and on the group in a team meeting
  • If you stay working at the computer, continue to work on a tablet or check phone messages in a meeting with a staff member or a team, that behaviour is dismissive and clearly gives a message that you don’t value or prioritise others. It won’t be long before you are seen as uncaring and out of touch.
  1. Not following up on agreed actions.
  • If meeting after meeting goes by and you don’t resolve outstanding issues or take agreed action, it means the team can’t move forward. You become a bottleneck instead of a leader and facilitator.  Many managers have become bottlenecks on both large and small issues and the team becomes frustrated and fed up with not being able to complete their work.
  • Failing to take decisive action and make hard decisions is also a cause of significant disruption and delay. Sometimes decisions are avoided because they are too hard, too complex or will have a negative impact.  Building good decision making skills is an important capability for you, other managers and team members.
  • Sometimes a team member needs a small thing done for them or something needs sorting out that seems trivial but could free up someone in the team. Managers who ignore these (big to a team member and small to a manager) issues also send the wrong message to staff. Addressing these issues is one of the ways you can show team members that they are important and are noticed and valued.


It is not easy being a leader and a manager. Leaders and managers are busy and under pressure and increasingly are expected to manage a project workload as well as teams of people.  Good leaders and managers try hard to carve out time for the people they need to talk to and focus on.  If you are usually focused and engaged in a meeting, everyone is forgiving of the occasional delay, disruption, interruption or postponement.  But if distractions, lack of focus and failure to follow-up on commitments or decisions become common place, it sends a clear message to people about how valued they are.

While these might seem like small issues, the potential ramifications could be enormous for you, your team and your organisation.  Make these small changes now and you could be surprised by the positive results.

We provide leadership coaching and comprehensive leadership development programs to help managers avoid these costly mistakes.  If your leaders need to build a positive team environment call Robyn on 0408 703344, or Tulsi on 0423 300590.

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