Tag Archive for: learning from mistakes

5 Common Mistakes Team Leaders Make

It’s not uncommon to hear people say that everyone makes mistakes. Although this seems to be common knowledge, there is still very little grace for those in positions of leadership who make mistakes on the job. Many mistakes that leaders make are simple issues that could have been handled differently if the leader was more aware ahead of time.

With that in mind, I want to talk about some of the frequent mistakes that are made by team leaders and how you can avoid making them yourself.

5 Common Mistakes That Team Leaders Make

How Mistakes Can Influence Your Leadership

In many circumstances, it’s possible to learn from making mistakes. However, experience can be a hard teacher and a very unforgiving mentor. Taking the wrong steps might be harmless on a number of occasions, but it can also be toxic to your career, your ambitions, and your personal life.

The biggest problem with learning from experience alone is that you may not find out you were making a mistake until it’s been going on for years or it’s too late to change. Maybe you will become a better leader afterwards, but you may have lost an opportunity that you otherwise would have kept if you had avoided that mistake entirely.

Common Mistakes for Team Leaders

My point with this article is to help you avoid some of the most common leadership mistakes by making you aware of them and helping you sidestep the issues as they come. These are the 5 most common mistakes that team leaders make:

1. Making Uninformed Decisions or Emotional Decisions

Decision-making is a logical process in a business environment. Whereas you might base a personal decision off of your emotions or incomplete information, a business decision needs more thought and more energy put into it. When you get information about anything that will influence a decision, it’s best to look for more information on the topic before you actually finalize a decision.

For example, if you are deciding which company trucks to buy you need to consult the drivers, clients, company records, and other sources of information instead of simply talking with the salesperson and finding an option that sounds good from your point of view. Different viewpoints and extra knowledge can help you to make better choices for the good of the company.

Equally as important is to avoid making decisions at work based on your emotions. No one should be hired or fired based on emotions, and no company decisions should be made because of your feelings on the issue. It’s important to make the distinction between values and emotions because while values might make you feel a certain emotion about a situation they will not cause the same rash decision-making as emotions. Think logically and be able to show your team the rationale and reasons behind your choice.


Leaders Making mistakes quote

image source: www.workwithlisawalker.com

2. Completing Unfinished Projects for Yourself


If you’ve delegated a task to your team and they send it back to you unfinished, poorly done, or not quite correct then you need to resist the urge to fix it up on your own. This is okay to do in certain circumstances, such as when a deadline is looming close and there’s no time to spare or if you have given instructions to you want to edit the project before it’s submitted fully.

However, you should not accept work that’s not done correctly or is not finished entirely, unless there has been some communication about it beforehand and you came to and understanding with the employees. When you delegate tasks, you should expect them to be completely properly. If you spend all your time going back over work that your team has done or finished up unfinished projects, you won’t have enough spare time left for your own work.

Part of being a leader is delegating tasks and expecting that work to be done with excellence. Otherwise, you aren’t really leading your team at all.

3. Shying Away from Healthy Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of healthy human interactions. You cannot expect your team to operate at its best if they are not allowed to have conflicts of any kind. The trick is to keep things from getting out of hand and this can be done by creating a culture where healthy conflict is accepted. Allowing healthy conflicts to take place so that employees can express their different viewpoints, opinions and discuss the merits of their ideas over others’ ideas. 

4. Acting without Help Consistently

It’s unhealthy for you to run to a mentor or superior for every decision that must be made, but it’s also a bad choice to act alone on everything. When you need help, seek it out. This helps to set the standard for your employees as well, letting them know that it’s okay to ask for help when necessary in the workplace. No one is perfect!

5. Allowing Too Much Team Autonomy

Autonomous teams are those that can operate on their own without too much supervision. Empowerment is a wonderful thing in most workplaces, but it’s also not something you should expect from every employee unless they have proven themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone on your team is going to be a self-motivated, dedicated worker that will get everything done on time without supervision.

Because of this, it’s a mistake not to check up on progress, get consistent reports, and make sure everything is running smoothly. Don’t expect employees to come to you every time they have problems or to check in and let you know how their work is coming along. Instead, do the legwork and go find out for yourself how your employees are doing.

All leaders make mistakes. They are a part of life. Successful leaders recognize their errors, learn from them, and work to correct their faults. - John C. Maxwell

Recovering from Making a Mistake

Mistakes don’t have to be fatal to your career. If you acknowledge that you made a mistake, take responsibility for it, and learn how to avoid that mistake again in the future then you will be able to recover well and will usually regain employee trust also. On the other hand, acting like it wasn’t a big deal, failing to acknowledge the mistake, or passing on the blame will ruin your standing with employees and will not help you progress past your mistake. Learn how to handle it well when you do mess up.


It’s common to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn about mistakes that are frequently made and try to avoid them for yourself. After all, if you can side-step a puddle in the road, isn’t that better than simply walking through it? Learn from this list of mistakes and pay attention so that you can correct yourself before you make any of these common mistakes.


Team Building helps build better leaders!

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Should a Leader Allow Employees to Fail in Order to Learn?

Learning through failure is a tricky topic in business. Arguments can be made for and against this type of learning in a business environment. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin and see what can be gained or lost from learning through failure, and how to implement a failure-tolerant culture in your business.

Should A Leader Allow Employees To Fail

What Is The Purpose Of Failure In Business?

Failure is a great teacher. It helps us to see a personal example of what not to do and to learn more quickly than we otherwise would have. In organizations where employees are not allowed to fail at any point, fewer risks are taken and people tend to stay within their comfort zones. In certain industries this may be okay, but in most modern businesses risks are necessary for the company to stay competitive.

If employees are not allowed to make mistakes or to fail at anything, they will be unwilling to try new ways of working that would possibly make the business more competitive.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Learning Through Failure

These are a few of the ways your business can thrive in a failure-accepting culture and some of the risks of allowing employees to fail.


  • Experience is a better teacher than words
  • Taking risks can turn out amazing results
  • Failure opens up other options to find a solution
  • Hands-off management encourages employee growth and self-supervision
  • Without failures, there can be no meaningful growth
  • Risks stretch a person’s comfort zone


  • Failure in certain areas of the business can jeopardise your company
  • Mistakes might add up and become costly to the organization

Making Mistakes is a good teacher Quote

Determining When Failure Is Acceptable

It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure employees cannot cause catastrophic damage to the business when they fail. This means that you will have to limit the areas in which your employees are allowed to take certain types of risks. Big risks shouldn’t ever happen in client relations or general corporate actions without executive leadership being involved to advice and implement.

On the other hand, team projects and individual projects are usually a good place to encourage your team to take some risks and try new strategies to get the work done more effectively. If they fail in these areas, the team will be there to assist in fixing that mistake and finding a new way to accomplish the task.

As a general rule for your team, it’s a good idea not to allow employees to take large risks on projects that could end up causing irreparable damage or being too costly to the company if a mistake did occur. Smaller projects are a great place for risks, as the damages caused are usually fixable and not very costly to the company.

If you are not failing you are not growing quote

Allowing Employees To Make Mistakes

Although it’s a great idea for leaders to allow learning through failure, there should be some clearly understood guidelines. If you don’t have guidelines laid out for your employees, they may become careless with their risk-taking and make unnecessary mistakes in the course of business as usual. Here are a few pointers about guidelines for learning by failure:

  1. Don’t tolerate the same mistakes made twice

It’s okay for employees to make mistakes; we now know this. However, you shouldn’t allow employees to make the same mistakes twice. It’s acceptable to make a mistake, but it’s expected that failure should cause that employee to learn and to avoid making that same mistake again. If that learning does not occur, there will be problems in allowing that employee to take risks again.

  1. Look for employees to learn from, own, and fix their mistakes

Ideally you should encourage this cycle with risk-taking: learn from, own, fix, and safeguard. This means that employees should learn from any mistakes they make, own up to what they did wrong, fix the consequences of their failure, and put in proper safeguards to ensure that mistake does not get repeated. This is a great guideline for employees about the best process for learning through failure.

  1. Supervision without intervention

As a leader, you will have to learn how to supervise what your employees are doing without stepping in to intervene if you think they are wrong. Again, this applies only to the situations in which risk is acceptable and allowed, not in more risk adverse situations. If your employees come to you for advice on the matter, you can intervene then and show them the problems you have seen. Otherwise, exercise restraint and allow that employee to fail if necessary in order to allow them to learn from their mistakes.

  1. Encourage risks, allow mistakes

It’s important to differentiate between encouraging mistakes and allowing mistakes. You should make it known that mistakes happen to everyone and are acceptable, but that it is not encouraged to make mistakes. Instead, encourage employees to stretch themselves, try new options, and take risks in their work where it is acceptable. If these actions result in failure, so be it.

Implementing A Failure Policy With Employees

If you want to create an environment where employees are able to learn from their failures, you must be willing to communicate this to them directly. Before people will be willing to stretch themselves and take risks, they have to know it’s acceptable and won’t be punished. Lay out the guidelines you decide on, challenge your employees to take risks, and stay true to your word on your stance about failure in the business.


About Total Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate fun and engaging team building activities designed to enhance teamwork, team culture, leadership, communication and collaboration. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your learn from failure contact us today.