Making a mistake is not unusual and while some mistakes can be easily corrected, others can be costly. Here are costly mistakes a leader must avoid:
1. Damaging trust
Since trust is built over time, the responsibility to make his followers continuously trust him depends on a leader’s actions and how he handles certain issues.
Ugochukwu from Nigeria shares his experience:
“I’ve been married for seventeen years and have never had an issue with my wife not until I gave my wife reasons not to trust me.
I started having an affair, even though she never caught me red-handed; the signs were all over the place.
I carelessly left my phone one morning and then I went into the shower to take my bath.
Then one of the girls I was dating sent me a nasty text message that I couldn’t deny.
This was the beginning of the problem I’m now experiencing in my marriage.
It led to distrust, in fact, it got to the point where anytime I tell my wife I’m going to Abuja to handle a project for a week; she begins to feel I’m going to see one of my mistresses.
It was not always that way until I damaged her trust.”
This is a familiar story; people want to be trusted but they don’t know that trust should be earned.
And once you’ve earned the trust, the onus is on you to keep it by being honest and truthful. Ugochukwu made a costly mistake and his wife will never trust him again, except he works to build it all over again. So a costly mistake a leader should never make is damaging trust.
2. Not doing what you say you will do
People are driven by results; so they align themselves with leaders who reflect what they say.
Daniel from Uganda shares his opinion on this:
“I stopped going to the ministry close to my house when I discovered that the preacher wasn’t doing what he preached.
I can’t remember the countless number of times he counselled me to always do the right thing.
I never knew, he wasn’t doing what he was saying. No one knew this until his wife filed a lawsuit against him for always molesting her.
Most times when we see marks on the face of the wife, she will always defend him. I guess she couldn’t take it anymore.
To me, there was no need staying in such a gathering because it is a place of deception.”
You can’t afford to slip as a leader to the point where your weakness is discussed in public. When you tell others to do something you are not doing, it is just a matter of time for them to find out. And once they do, it is a credibility killer, this was one reason the preacher lost the loyalty of Daniel.
3. Caring less for your followers
People do this, sometimes unconsciously. Imagine someone people see as a leader having a selfish ambition; he begins to care less about those who follow him because he just wants to get results. Anyone who does this and calls himself a leader is only living under an illusion. There is a big difference between a leader and a manager. Leaders put people first; managers are more concerned with performance and results.
Esther from Indonesia shares her experience:
“My boss doesn’t care about me, he only just wants results at the expense of my personal life.
There was a day I received a call from my child’s school that she was seriously ill and that they needed my attention.
I was surprised when I asked for an excuse to visit my child in school. My boss refused said, he said he couldn’t allow me because we needed to meet production.
I was so angry, I left and that was the end of my job.”
When you treat people this way and they find out, they will never give their all to you. You will suddenly discover that you are alone when you need them to come through for you. Collin Powell says “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”