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The 3 Biggest Mistakes From New Leaders (and How to Avoid Them)

Being in charge means you’re under the microscope, so don’t let the title go to your head.

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BY Mandy Gilbert - 13 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Full of excitement and opportunity, new leaders are eager to succeed, please and inspire. However, it doesn't take long before the hard reality of what the job really entails starts to set in. What began as an opportunity full of promise has quickly turned into a nightmare, full of disgruntled employees, stalled results, and angry higher-ups.

So what went wrong? While there are plenty of outside factors that you could point the finger at, as the leader, you don't have that luxury. That's why you have to start looking inwards and reflect on the missteps you took that got you here in the first place.

The first three months will set the tone for your leadership. If you're about to embark on this type of role for the first time or are well into the position, these common rookie mistakes could have lasting effects on the company, not to mention your reputation. After all, first impressions are everything.

1. You change everything right away

It's natural to want to make an impact straight out of the gate. After weeks or even months of analyzing how the company needs to improve, newly appointed leaders often unleash a complete renovation of the current system as soon as they step into the office.

While your intentions may be good, shaking things up and turning the company upside down without warning could create a storm of angry employees. Take your time and consult with every staff member to hear their feedback and ideas, then share your vision for the company. Total transparency is the best way to get the people to buy-in, making any new changes a gradual process rather than a total upheaval.

2. You're literally being bossy

Keeping people accountable is one thing; barking orders at them is another. Just because you're the boss does not give you the right to be bossy. Hovering over people's shoulders, constantly checking in on a project, and delegating without considering staff's current work loads are surefire ways to earn yourself some disgruntled employees. Don't let the title go to your head.

3. You're trying too hard

After working for all types of bad bosses, how many times did you vow you were going to be different? There would be no hierarchical structure or differentiation. Drinks on Friday, lunch on Wednesday, and weekend barbecues would make you part of the team rather than the person in charge. You'd be 'the cool boss' that everyone dreams of working for.

Time for a reality check. Yes, you want to be respected and to inspire your team. However, your staff do not look at you like a friend, so stop trying to be one. Trying too hard to get them to like you is exhausting and will only cause issues in the future. You can't forego delivering critical feedback just because you're afraid of what people will say behind your back.

Don't despair if you're guilty of committing these rookie offenses. Not all is lost, as there are plenty of ways you can turn things around. The most important thing is that you've recognized where the missteps were and are ready to move forwards.

It's a tough job, and even the most seasoned leaders make mistakes. Just remember that you were put in this role for a reason. Someone recognized that you have the qualities to lead a team and grow the company. Now go and do just that.