One of the most satisfying elements of our work is being able to watch at very close quarters how different leaders work with their teams. And, we have been fortunate to see many remarkable leaders and their different styles in handling their teams. At the same time, in the course of our interaction with various teams, we do come across leaders who are perhaps still growing into their roles.\r\n\r\nFrom our experience in handling several diverse teams, I would like to point out a few things that you as a leader must watch out for. Avoiding these common leadership mistakes will certainly go to great lengths in firmly establishing yourself as a leader.\r\n\r\n1) Leadership is what you DO \u2013 not what you SAY\r\nThe commonest mistake we have encountered is when what a leader says and what he does is in conflict with each other. I am not referring to large decisions\u2013 but rather to the small cues that leaders can unconsciously give out (and not notice), but which followers latch onto.\r\n\r\nLet me give an example. One of our team workshops was kicked off by a leader who gave a stirring speech about everyone being an equal part of the team. Soon after that, when the actual team workshop started, he opted out of the many activities for no apparent reason. The unsaid message that went to the team was: \u201cThese things are meant for you \u2013 not for me as a leader\u201d. In one swift blow, all the good work done by him through his speech was diluted by his actions.\r\n\r\nAs a leader, everybody watches you for the cues you give out, long after your speech is done & dusted.\r\n\r\n2) Focusing on ME rather than WE\r\nA few months back, I happened to read an interview of an industry leader where he was summing up the last one year of his tenure. What struck me in the interview was the number of times the word \u201cI\u201d was used, and in contrast, the few occasions \u201cWE\u201d was used. It was really not a surprise when I heard a few months after that this \u2018leader\u2019 was asked to leave.\r\n\r\nOne of the tenets of experiential learning is that, \u201cThe way you play is very often the way you work\u201d. In our workshops we see this reflected, when on many occasions that we assign a task to a group, all eyes turn to the leader; worse still, the leader becomes the sole source of all ideas\/actions.\r\n\r\nAs a leader, your biggest role is perhaps to empower your people to act. To make them heroes.\r\n\r\n3) Not keeping an eye on the BIG picture\r\nWhile conducting experiential workshops \u2013 the teams are generally split into smaller groups for ease of managing them while conducting the activities. But the minute we split people into teams, the competitive spirit of \u201cUs versus Them\u201d kicks in and people begin to think in silos. It\u2019s very similar in organizations when people begin to think of themselves as \u201cMarketing\u201d or \u201cOperations\u201d or \u201cProduction\u201d. Whose role is it then to remind people that they are part of one big team? That responsibility rests primarily with the leader.\r\n\r\nTo share a positive example: In one of our workshops, there was again a leader who sat out, but this time with a clear intent. All through the workshop, he moved from team to team \u2013 and when he saw the silos in action, in choice colorful language asked the groups himself: \u201cHow many teams are here?\u201d. By constantly reminding and asserting the message of collaboration \u2013 he ensured the teams delivered a higher level of performance. Also the team was constantly aware of why the whole team building exercise was being undertaken in the first place.\r\n\r\nAs Stephen Covey said, your role as a leader is to climb the tallest tree and shout, \u201cWater that side!\u201d\r\n\r\n4) Being a buddy, not a leader\r\nOne of the mistakes we sometimes see leaders make is falling prey to the temptation of wanting to be liked. Everyone wants to be liked \u2013 but a leader has the added responsibility of sometimes doing things that are good for the organization, but not necessarily popular with the ranks.\r\n\r\nOne stark example of this happened in a workshop, where in the midst of the workshop, some of the participants wanted to have beer. The leader was clearly caught between the decision of doing what was right for the organization (asking people to complete the tasks) and what was popular (allowing participants to have a beer). Unfortunately, in that case, he chose the easier path. Not surprisingly, the intensity of the workshop quickly dissipated \u2013 and a \u201clearning moment\u201d was lost.\r\n\r\nAs a leader, you have signed out of the contest to be Mr.Popular. Don\u2019t try to sign in again.\r\n\r\nWhat do you think are the common mistakes leaders make? Do share with us.