Fostering Relationships: The Biggest Team Mistake Leaders Make

The biggest team mistake leaders make is not delegating work properly.  This poor leadership tactic is also known as micro-managing or helicoptering.  It ranks as the largest team mistake for these seven reasons:

  1. It has a large negative impact on quality of work, team culture and individual motivation. 
  2. It is very common. Letting go and letting the team is not easy for many leaders. It requires a complex series of personal, strategic, team and repetitive efforts.
  3. The reason we have teams is because there is too much work for one person to do or because the work requires specialized talents. A leader trying to do all the work on their own goes directly against the reason the team exists in the first place.
  4. Team members need to feel valuable and needed. When their leader doesn't delegate work properly it robs them of this basic desire.
  5. Since a young age we have wanted autonomy; to feel like we can "do it on our own." This is a driving force of leaders being dictators.  This is also why leaders must let go and not micro-manage the team. Your team needs you to train well, correct when needed, but let them do the work on their own.
  6. The best ideas and highest quality work never materialize because the dictator leader is holding everyone and everything back due to their need for control.
The old parenting quote (that is applicable to the work place also) goes, "If you don't let me help when I'm not needed, then I won't want to help when I am needed." This quote sums up nicely the internal workings of team members regarding their need to engage with the team.  So, why do so many leaders fall prey to this poor leadership approach?  Here a few of the most common:
  • Not trusting team members.
  • Not understanding that the enemy of excellence is perfection.  
  • Not letting team members try/fail/learn/re-try.
  • Hold an inflated sense of self-esteem.
  • Think that just because you can do something means you should do it (instead of letting your team do it.)
  • Have been burned in the past and are super-imposing past mistakes of others on current team members.
  • Haven't invested the time or resources to fully train the team.
  • Are blind to the negative impact of their behaviors (because many of them are unseen, at least initially.)
If you recognize any of these patterns in your behavior or thoughts, it is time to change. Teams work best when five things happen - two of the most important are that the team leader is trusted and the team members are engaging their core strengths to do meaningful work.  Running your team like a dictator defeats both of these.  Make the change and you will see tremendous positive results.


Anonymous said...

Is the mistake in the title intentional or accidental?

Rhett Laubach said...

Anonymous, tell me more about your question. What do you mean exactly? Thanks.