A wise man once said “Life isn’t fair” and yes, it isn’t. Nothing is definite; Wealthy people lose money and become poor, healthy individuals fall sick and die. Stories like this and more seem to be ever present in Nigerian news updates.
In the same vein, it is not a guarantee that being a smart and knowledgeable leader precludes you from making mistakes that can ruin your company. You might not have set out to harm your business, but a little mistake here and an oversight there can culminate over time to wreck an enterprise you started on such a promising note.
It is still a fascinating sight to watch businesses, conglomerates and organizations that were once seen as trailblazers in certain fields wither away over time. These companies are usually run by some of the smartest people around, surrounded by a team of well-motivated minds but somehow they lose their way. Companies such as Kodak, Blackberry, Yahoo and Motorola, once household names, are presently a shadow of themselves.
Manuals are not normally created with the intention of teaching you how to wreck your business, but as a leader, if you indulge in any of the mistakes listed below, you will most definitely ruin your company, irrespective of the number of MBAs you acquire from Harvard.
In leadership, it’s easy to cross that thin line between self-confidence, and over-confidence. If you ever find yourself getting c@ught up assuming you can figure out all the solutions by yourself, then you need to watch it.
According to a new study from the University of Missouri, Georgia, Tech University and the University of Texas-Arlington, CEOs with over-confidence can involve their companies in riskier ventures and put investors’ funds and employee jobs at risk. The same study revealed that leaders with individualistic tendencies tend to tilt towards being cocky, often ignoring the power of teamwork.
• Refusing to let others win
The first mistake will usually lead to this, a disregard of the men behind the scene. Finding good ideas begins with a willingness to listen to all ideas. It is easy to brush this aside, and claim that in running your enterprise, you carry your team along, but do you really give other ideas a chance? Do you let other ideas win? Do you acknowledge the source? Do you take credit for success even when an open reference to the source could mean a lot to that staff?
Being a leader comes with its dark sides sometimes, one of which is the illusion that you are the head because you are the best. That’s a lie, your stint at the top is just a marriage of opportunity and preparedness as given other circumstances, some other person on your team could actually fare better.
It is great to focus on short term targets, but it is often more rewarding to always keep the bigger picture in view. Sometimes a leader fails to recognize a shifting industry and acts far too late.
The 20th and 21st century will go down in history as the era of speed and evolution, an era that has given rise to great businesses that storm the scene with cutting edge ideas that can become blunt as time goes on and often times, this is because of myopia.
Kodak’s former Chief Executive Walter A. Fallon was alerted in 1981 of shifting tides; of the rise of digital photography, he was equally warned that this would inevitably negatively impact film sale. Rather than look to the future and strategize, he ignored the signs and ironically, Kodak’s own engineer, Steve Sasson, developed the first digital camera in 1975. Fast forward 2012, Kodak files for bankruptcy having been swept away by the digital revolution.
• Temper outbursts
It’s okay to be human, but it is detrimental to the success of your business to have unstable emotions. Wild emotional swings will leave your workers wondering which version of you they’re going to get, this will in turn stifle communication, which will inevitably lead to lower productivity.
It might initially look like you are being a tough boss; a man in control, but it never helps in the long run. Society loves to portray meanness, coldness and ruthlessness as hallmarks of boardroom excellence but on the contrary, almost every human responds positively to niceness and respect
• Placing Results before People
Of all the factors that influence your productivity as a leader, people come first. Clients, customers, colleagues and staff all come before your product or service (as the case may be). Being a smart leader requires smart people management skills.
When people around you notice you value things, results and other inanimate things above human relations, you lose the confidence and compassion of people. As much as results drive the business and corporate landscape, no one feels at his best dealing with a robot-like, emotionless creature except of course, fellow robots.
A smart leader must be seen to be genuinely interested in the well-being and welfare of his team.