8 mistakes first-time leaders do that make employees quit.

8 mistakes first-time leaders do that make employees quit. 

Those who are new to leadership may not realise this, but there are 8 mistakes first-time leaders do that make employees quit. Maybe it is due to watching too many Hollywood movies leading to this misbelief that leaders have to be full of bravado.  

I reached out to the leadership community, and I want to thank those who have contributed with their own experiences.  

The aim of this article is that after you have read it, especially if you are first time leader, that it causes you to reflect on your leadership. Are you guilty of having done of what is listed below? 

1 – Always having to say something. To fill the silent voids with words. – ‘EF’ 

1 – Always having to say something. To fill the silent voids with words. – ‘EF’ 

There is this misbelief that the more you speak, the more you are seen as a leader and that your team will trust and respect you. The inverse of this misbelief is that if you have nothing to add, then you are not worthy of being a leader. This compels many first time leaders to feel that they need to add to a discussion, fill the silence with their own words, and even have the final word. 

All that is really happening is that when a leader speaks, it implies they have taken control of the conversation or discussion. It signals to everyone to be silent, and if getting inputs from your team is important, then you are killing any opportunity for that to occur. There is a reason why leaders speak last where possible. 

2 – I got to have all answers! – ‘JO’ 

2 – I got to have all answers! – ‘JO’ 

Many a times, a first time leader feels compelled to come up with all the answers to any problem they come across. After all that is what a leader does right? There is this misconception that a leader is there to ‘save the day’. It could also stem from an insecurity that if a leader does not have the answer, then they should not be the leader.  

Having all the answers is not necessarily a good thing. It prevents your team from thinking on their own, solving their own problems, and leads them to be dependent on you. Also, coming up with all the answers is tiring, especially when there are other areas that you should focus on as the leader.  

3 – A leader directs from the front, and the team follows from behind. – Me 

3 – A leader directs from the front, and the team follows from behind. – Me 

Some first time leaders believe that being a leader means leading from the front, giving directions, making decisions, and being the most visible person in the team. To do otherwise would imply that it is the team who is directing the leader.  

If you are always in front, then you create a team that is dependent on you. Talented team members who want their shot at leading teams will not get the opportunity to be developed, and will likely move on elsewhere. In fact, most of the time, a leader’s job is to be the number one fan of their team.

4 – Always make the right decisions. – ‘LTW’


4 – Always make the right decisions. – ‘LTW’

A leader can’t be wrong, because they are infallible, right? This is yet another one of the 8 mistakes first-time leaders do that make employees quit. This stems from a misbelief that a leader is unfit to lead if they make incorrect decisions. God forbid if a leader actually uttered the words ‘I don’t know.’ to a problem or situation that their team is facing. 

This need to make a decision can lead to analysis paralysis, with a constant need to get more information. Information is never really enough, so it is better to make the best decision at the time. Then when new information becomes available, the next best decision is made. The previous decision might then be seen as ‘wrong’, but that is how dealing with dynamic leadership situations is. 

5 – Having to flex your position power in order to show people that you are in charge. – ‘PT’ and ‘CAR’ 

5 – Having to flex your position power in order to show people that you are in charge. – ‘PT’ and ‘CAR’ 

When you are a confident and successful leader, everyone knows that. There is no need to remind them. But if you are insecure and in need plenty of external validation, then flexing your position to frequently remind others of who is in charge is something you would do. A prime example would be pretending to seek feedback and opinions from your team, only to continuously convince them that your idea is better. 

It is downright annoying to everyone in your team when you flex your position power, as it actually reminds them of your insecurities. Your team might just let you have your way, and then you would have lost them. There goes any level of engagement from your team.    

6 – The leader will be only a delegator & not a doer. – ‘SA’ 

6 – The leader will be only a delegator & not a doer. – ‘SA’ 

It is a common mistake for first time leaders to start delegating a lot to their team, in a misbelief that a leader should focus on strategy while the team manages the operational day to day. The thing is, when you were a team member, you expected your leader to have an understanding of what you did, so he / she could assist you when you needed help. Now that you are the leader, why should things be any different?  

If you do not know what your team does in their operational day to day, then how can you contribute to their success? And if you cannot contribute to their success, then why are you their leader at all? 

7 – Jumping into the vision without first getting to know the team – Me 

7 – Jumping into the vision without first getting to know the team – Me 

Some first time leaders like to jump straight into declaring their vision for the team, and how everyone is going to fit into that vision. Then they find the team is giving them lip service on agreeing to the vision, but the real action and support is lacking.  

The most important piece of the vision has been left out. The team itself. If each team member’s personal vision has not been considered in the crafting of the team vision, then it remains the vision of only the leader. Most people will work for something if it benefits them. Having a team vision is the same thing. 

8 – Thinking that leadership is following the rules. Have courage to go into the unknown – ‘BC’ 

8 – Thinking that leadership is following the rules. Have courage to go into the unknown – ‘BC’ 

Many first time leaders are understandably excited about finally ‘leading’ a team. They believe that as long as the team follows the established rules and procedures to deliver results; that that is leadership. It is not. Following the rules and keeping things running is simply Management. 

Leadership is not a position. It is having the courage to depart from established norms when necessary. When challenges arise and crisis hits, will you find the courage to go into the unknown? 

So there you go. 

If you are new to leadership as a first time leader, make sure you take note of the 8 mistakes first-time leaders do that make employees quit. These mistakes are hygiene factors, meaning a leader must not make them. If you want to lead successfully, check out the ‘8 expectations that a leader must live up to’. Those expectations are the real leadership motivators for a team. 

Daniel Lee
August 3, 2021 | 2,269 views
5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

    GET CONNECTED

    For a confidential, no commitment conversation on how we might be
    able to help you or your organization, or if you have any questions you
    want answered, please drop us a message.

    0
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
    ()
    x
    Shopping cart0
    There are no products in the cart!
    Continue shopping
    0

      Want the secrets to be an inspiring First Time Leader?