5 Leadership Mistakes To Avoid During Challenging Times

Laurie Riihimaki

As life continues on during challenging times, so does our work as leaders. Leaders are the real MVPs during this time, as their work is neverending. Individuals, communities, and teams are looking to their leaders for advice, empathy, distractions, and guidance during these uncertain times. Their job and spirit are essential.

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to bring your A-game to the table and be the best possible leader for your team. This will keep them sane, focused, and productive. It will also give you a sense of normalcy and purpose in the pool of chaos we are all trying to stay afloat in.

Of course, during this time, there are going to be a lot of obstacles standing in our way, blocking our paths, causing confusion and worry, and slowing momentum. These obstacles can easily cause panic and other heightened emotions, as well as mistakes. By making it a priority to remain aware, be observant, and listen actively it will be easier to prevent common mistakes that often take place during times of high stress.

Right now, there is a great deal of uncertainty happening around us that is threatening to swallow us up and we can’t waste all of our good energy focusing on that. We need to focus on what we do know and what we do know for certain is that we need to continue to strive forward for ourselves, our businesses, and our teams.

We Will All Make Mistakes

With the state of the world all upside-down and inside-out, it’s inevitable that everyone will a mistake or two. Accept that now, no matter how tough that may be for you so that when the time comes you will be prepared for it both mentally and emotionally.

Mistakes haven’t gotten a really bad reputation, but really, they aren’t all bad! There are actually some really good things that come out of making mistakes. The biggest is that we can learn from them if we allow ourselves to. To do so, we must remain open and vulnerable in order to see the opportunities that our mistakes are presenting to us. When we learn from our mistakes we can then create better habits and use those to influence our future decisions and reactions.

You must remind yourself that mistakes are not an end-all. One mistake is not going to kill your entire business, your career, or your team. Know and understand that everything is fixable.

Now, here are some common mistakes that leaders around the globe are making during this time, as well as other heightened times of stress. If you keep them in mind, you may be able to prevent them from affecting you and your team.

Trying To Control Everything

There is no denying that this uncharted territory we are navigating is tough for many reasons. Not only is it unfamiliar, but it’s scary, unclear, and erratic. We really don’t know what is going to happen next and we need to adapt and learn to be ok with that.

Giving up a little control is vital during this time. Do not feel guilty for riding the wave a little and seeing what happens. It’s important that there is balance; balance between taking action and letting things flow naturally. In order to do this, you must first understand what is certain and what is uncertain.

In general, the things that are certain pertain to your immediate everyday life and routine. Your ‘normal’ may be a little different right now, but it just takes a little adjusting and adaptability on your part. Try to focus on solely your work and your team and push aside the uncertainties of the outside world, though it may be difficult. However, you, alone, cannot control the state of the world and the impact it is having on the people and the economy, so cross it off of your agenda and put your energy elsewhere.

Not Seeing The Bigger Picture

Although you can’t change the situation, it’s important to see the bigger picture surrounding it. Sadly, it’s true, that there are people who are suffering and scared. This makes it a heightened time of stress for all. So, it’s absolutely vital to take that into consideration when addressing your team members. Your empathy skills need to be top-notch right now as you may not be aware of know what your team members are personally dealing with or going through at this time.

If a coworker seems off of their game, try to show some compassion by talking with them and listening with understanding ears rather than lashing out at their behavior. Mental health needs to be a priority right now for you and your team members, so fostering a positive, open, and transparent work culture is key. This safe-space will lead to productivity and the optimum results that you desire from your team.

Be aware that some of your workers, as well as yourself, may need a break now and then and it’s important that every individual gets the time they need. Taking breaks will lead to better productivity and employee engagement, and will allow for a greater sense of respect and comfort in the workplace.

Another problem associated with not seeing the bigger picture of the current situation is feeling as if it is never going to end and that we are permanently stuck in a sea of stress. It is mission-critical to remember that this is a temporary situation and we will all get through it together.

Lack Of Communication

Not communicating properly with your time during any tense and chaotic time can hinder the team’s productivity, performance, and morale. While working from home, consistent communication with every team member individually, as well as with the team as a whole, is vital to getting work accomplished and creating a sense of normality. Constant communication will allow your team to feel less alone. Right now, they need you more than ever, as many team members may be struggling with feeling isolated working from home.

Communication should not only be constant, but it should also be transparent. With everything around us being so uncertain at the moment, it’s important that a leader remains transparent to their team, by letting them know exactly what is going on. Of course, you do not want your team to worry about the state of the company when there is no need to. However, if there is a need to worry, then they should know.

When sharing essential information regarding the company to your team, be sure to discuss it in a positive way. Negative news will be even harder for people to digest than usual, so when spilling the beans and tackling difficult topics, utilize a can-do attitude that will help your team focus and put their minds at ease amidst all the chaos.

Paralyzing Decisions

One of the most common problems leaders will make during this time of stress is paralyzing decision-making, and therefore, missing opportunities. When you don’t take action, you put yourself and your team in a position to fail. Just because the world is an uncertain place right now, doesn’t mean you need to stop all that you’re doing and sit back and wait. Work is still happening and you and your team members need to move forward with it.

Decision-making should still move progress as usual. Of course, always be smart about decisions and weigh the risks properly. There needs to be a balance between jumping into the next big deal and letting the business flow naturally. Spontaneity is not necessarily encouraged, but neither is staying stationary. As a leader, it is your job to decide the actions that need to take place. To ensure you’re making good decisions you need to be observant, engaged, and reflective.

Not Being Accountable

If you do make a mistake during this time when your leadership skills are being tested, realize that it’s okay and you’re definitely not the only one.

A good leader must take accountability at all times for their mistakes, accidents, and misjudgments, but this is especially important now when the team may already feel shaken and unstable. Your team will respect your accountability and the bond of the workplace will strengthen when you give yourself permission to be vulnerable.

However, understand that accountability doesn’t have to weigh you down. It should make you feel lighter, in fact, giving you a sense of freedom and allowing you to move forward with better skills to handle the uncertainty.

As a leader, you are being given the ultimate test right now. It’s up to you whether you ace it or not.

FAQ:

  • Who will make mistakes during challenging times?

During challenging times, it is inevitable that everyone will make mistakes, but we must be forgiving with ourselves.

  • Why shouldn’t you try to control everything?

There are a lot of factors out of our control right now, so we must put our energy into only what we can control.

  • Why should you try to see the bigger picture?

Seeing the bigger picture will allow you to communicate with your team better as well as make you remember that this is only a temporary situation.

  • How should you communicate with your team during times of stress?

Empathy, compassion, and consistent communication is key to addressing your team right now.

  • Why must you keep making decisions with uncertainty all around us?

If your workplace has not stopped because of the pandemic, then you need to keep the momentum going or you could risk missing opportunities.

  • Why must you be accountable?

Being accountable for your mistakes is important at any time. It will help to strengthen the bond, trust, and respect between you and your team.

 

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