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Common Mistakes Bad Leaders Make

common mistakes leaders make
Credit: Thomas Cole: The Course of Empire: Destruction

Common Mistakes Bad Leaders Make

Understanding good leadership means being aware of which common mistakes to avoid. In our 5 Signs of Incompetent Leadership Young Leaders Should Eschew, we discussed some important points. In a nutshell, a bad leader is a stress-inducing, demotivating, and angry mess who is biased against action and is largely unable to connect with employees on a personal level. This brings us to the first common mistake committed by bad leaders.

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Not Having an Open-Door Policy

An open-door policy is when even entry-level employees can engage with those in the highest positions to discuss anything related to the company. Many companies and entrepreneurs can attest to the effectiveness of this policy. Credit Karma CEO and founder Kenneth Lin explains how this has worked well for his credit and financing company. “I want new employees to feel like this is a mission we’re all in together.

An open-door policy sets the tone for this. Whenever I’m in my office and available, I encourage anyone to come by and share their thoughts about how they feel Credit Karma is doing.” Without this policy, the now 12-year-old Credit Karma wouldn’t have the strong employee morale and forward momentum it continues to foster today.

Not Compensating Company Sources

People who are 30 and over will remember Napster, the company that first popularized mp3 file-sharing online. Napster bypassed the profiteering of big record companies in the 90s and early 2000s by allowing anyone with an Internet connection to download and share music for free.

While it pioneered the widespread sharing of music online, the company didn’t have any plan for compensating the artists whose music was shared on their platform. The Economist looked back at the debate that this sparked over intellectual property rights, and how it eventually led to the company’s downfall via massive lawsuits. A good leader needs to examine all the contingencies to avoid costly mistakes further down the line.

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Failing to Predict Future Trends

Before Facebook, Instagram, and even MySpace, there was Friendster, once a company that was at the forefront of the social media and social networking age. The problem was that it remained a profile-centered network that required users to view other people’s profiles in order to see anything new.

Friendster didn’t accommodate news sharing, which is what most social media channels are used for today. As a result, it eventually downgraded into just a gaming website – far from the social media giant it was purported to be. Often a good idea can hit a brick wall if continuous development isn’t embraced.

Emotional Leadership

Poor leadership can happen in startups and it can happen on the world stage. The recent trade-related decisions of US President Donald Trump provide “good” examples of how not to engage with fellow leaders. More specifically, Trump’s decision and willingness to get into an unnecessary trade war with China put an unnecessary risk on the US economy.

FXCM points out how the problem with trade wars is that they tend to result in a lot of currency devaluation, tariff adjustments, and the periodic volatility of involved markets. In short, prolonged trade wars require objective instead of emotional decision-making. Given Donald Trump’s tendency for volatile tweets, aggressive posturing, and general disregard of cultural differences, the US market is likely to suffer from his emotional form of leadership. One of the most common mistakes leaders make is going with their “gut” rather than considering the impact of their decisions. Once a poor choice is made it is very hard to retract.

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I am the Founder and President of Young Leaders Arena. Formerly I was the Chief Editor and program co-ordinator at Walktall. Author of the upcoming Book; Success Recipe: Start up Tool-kit for exceptional business growth. I have written numerous articles on both leadership, business start up, entrepreneurship. I have served as thought leader in many societies and organisations, including the Forum on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. I obtained my post graduate from the prestigious University of Port Harcourt. I also have a Bachelors from the Delta State University, Abraka. Twitter & Instagram: @Charlessholokwu

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