I know you don’t want to destroy your team, but you may be doing just that. Many leaders, either by failing to act or acting unwisely, make it impossible for their teams to succeed. Here are a few of the most common mistakes leaders make while managing a team.
- Don’t give clear objectives to the team
- Fail to empower the team to act
- Form the team too quickly without considering whether the right people are on it
- Make unilateral decisions that you’ve asked the team to make
- Take all the credit for the work of the team
I could say a lot about each of these mistakes, but the fourth one is of particular interest to me.
Imagine that a leader assigned you to a project team at work or a volunteer setting. The leader wants the team to work on a problem and recommend a course of action. You and the team get to work. You spend hours researching, talking, thinking, and planning. Then you write a report, schedule a meeting with the leader, and make your presentation. And then you find out that the leader had an epiphany, made a decision, and already took action to solve the problem.
You would probably be angry or at least frustrated, but leaders do this often. You may have done it yourself. It usually isn’t malicious. The goal was to solve the problem. You solved the problem. So, what is the problem with that?
Unfortunately, you are working with human beings who feel undervalued and unappreciated because of your actions. And, if that team still has work to do, they will be reluctant to keep working or give their best effort. You’ve destroyed their ability to perform.
What should you do? Resist the urge to move ahead of your team. If you’ve asked them to do something, let them do it, hear them out, and then make decisions. And, if you have an idea, let them consider it for themselves. If you must make a decision, be courteous enough to tell them that they can stop working on it and explain why.