7 Mistakes Every Successful Leader Has Made

The road to success can be long and uncertain. We all have different paths we must take in order to reach our individual professional goals, but one thing we all have in common when making the journey is that we all make mistakes. What separates the successful leaders and entrepreneurs from those that are unsuccessful is that they may have made the same mistakes, but instead of moping about it and giving up, they persevered, learned, and continued moving forward.

Mistakes are a part of our personal and professional lives. Often we feel inadequate when we make a mistake and it comes down to owing up to it, but if we fail to accept our mistakes we can never expect to learn how to use them to our advantage. People who experience success are not immune to making mistakes. The difference is in the way they handle their mistakes. If you want to grow and learn in order to better yourself, you must first admit when you have made a mistake, and then work to learn from your mistake in order to better prepare you for the next time. Here are seven mistakes that every successful leader has made, but is not likely to repeat.

1. Falling for what seems too good to be true.

One of the biggest rules of sales on the part of the consumer is never to fall for something that sounds too good to be true. For the successful leader or entrepreneur, this also rings truth. People that present their product or service to you in a charismatic way and go on raving about how successful they are, and what opportunities they can provide you for your investment, can definitely help draw in some naïve customers. But in order to make an informed decision, investors and consumers alike must read between the lines and weigh the pros of the potential investment with the cons.

2. Losing sight of the big picture.

Working towards accomplishing a lifetime goal can be a daunting and arduous task. It takes both time and patience, and a certain degree of discipline in order to keep you focused on the end goal. Whether you are working towards achieving your own personal or professional goal, or you are a member of a team trying to achieve one unified goal, it is important not to let your focus shift entirely to smaller, more minuscule details. As the leader, assign smaller tasks to individuals on your team and oversee all of the group’s progress in working towards the end goal.  

3. Attempting to please everyone.

While it may seem advantageous to satisfy the wants and needs of everyone on your team or every prospect that you encounter, realistically it is not going to work. If you spend all of your time trying to cater to everyone’s needs, you will not only loose site of the end goal, but you will also inevitably satisfy one person while angering or displeasing someone else.

The best approach to take as a leader is to make an informed decision about how best to accomplish the team goal and make a plan that will help you achieve it. Some people may disagree with your approach or maintain that you should go in another direction, but it is your job as leader to make the final decision and stick to it. This will also help you gain the respect of your team members or employees.

4. Taking shortcuts and making rash decisions.  

Not taking the time to prepare for important meetings or decisions can be detrimental to your success and your career. Relying on your ability to “wing” an important meeting because you did not take the time to prepare, or decided to engage in some other form of activity, does nothing to truly further your experience and will only end up hurting your progress in the end. Be sure to research every decision before you make it, and do not rely on shortcuts simply to avoid spending a few extra dollars or to please certain investors or members of your team. Remember, you are the leader, and must maintain control over the final say.

5. Working without a budget.

If you force yourself to operate within the confines of a budget, you will not only improve your ability to make tough financial decisions, you will also begin to make smarter, more informed decisions. Carrying on without giving any thought to how much you are spending and what you are spending on deprives you of the opportunity to learn how to spend responsibly and make informed decisions. Once you take the time to get a better understanding of your financial situation and how your money is being spent, however, making better financial decisions suddenly becomes much clearer.

6. Repeating the same thing and getting the same results.

As you lead your team in working through a project, it is important to note what you do differently as you move closer and closer towards the project’s completion. Scientists will attempt to keep every step of a procedure constant in order to prove that the findings are true each time. A recipe for apple pie, for example, will yield you the exact same apple pie every time, provided you do not change any of the ingredients or instructions.

Your path to success, however, must be able to be changed constantly in order for you to become efficient and experienced leader. If you are attempting to sell a new product, for instance, you must be prepared to modify your sales approach in the event that your current strategy does not yield the results you were expecting. Just like the recipe for apple pie will get you the same apple pie every time, a sales approach that yields you no sales is guaranteed not to yield you any sales if you do not first look for ways to improve or modify your pitch. In other words, be adaptable.

7. Thinking people can change.

Working towards achieving your life and career goals is a much easier endeavor when you have people you can rely on to help you. Surrounding yourself with people who you trust to get their jobs done so that you all can accomplish your end goal will be one of the most vital components of your success.

You cannot expect a negative or unmotivated person to step up and work just because you get on their case about not working. At the end of the day, a person can only change if and when they have the unique and genuine desire to change themselves. Do not assume that you can change a person simply be exemplifying discipline and hard work or by sheer force of will. Instead, surround yourself with like-minded individuals who have the same interest and passion that you have in accomplishing the group’s end goal.