7 Mistakes Even Great Leaders Make

Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.

Peter F. Drucker
[3-min read]

In my early days as a team leader, I made every mistake in the book. Literally.

I micromanaged, thinking I was setting a high standard.

I jumped in to fix problems for my team, believing I was helping.

I confused my team by constantly changing priorities, thinking I was innovating.

I worked at a pace impossible to keep up with, seeing it as “setting the example.”

My intentions were good. What I didn't realize? My behavior was hurting my team more than it was helping them.

It all changed about 10 years ago when I read Liz Wiseman's book: Multipliers, How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

She introduced me to the concept of “Accidental Diminishers.” They are leaders who, despite good intentions, end up stifling their team’s potential.

I’ve created an infographic on 7 of the 10 accidental diminishes in Multipliers. Click the image to get a high-res PDF version.

Understanding these 7 mistakes helped me reshape my approach to leadership. And it’s led to more engaged, empowered, and capable teams.

7 Accidental Diminishers

1. The Rescuer

Jumping in to solve problems quickly and thinking it helps is a mistake. Over time, this could make the team overly dependent and less proactive.

2. The Optimist

Relentless positivity overshadows real issues, leaving the team feeling unheard and invalidated.

3. The Pacesetter

Setting high standards and working at a breakneck pace unconsciously puts pressure on your team to keep up. This could lead to burnout and disengagement.

4. The Always On

Constant energy and always speaking doesn't leave space for your team members to contribute. It stifles their creativity and sense of contribution.

5. The Idea Generator

A barrage of ideas often derails ongoing projects, causing confusion and shifting focus away from important tasks.

6. The Perfectionist

The need for perfection and control limits the team’s ability to learn from mistakes and discourages them from taking initiative.

7. The Rapid Responder (Quick Fix, Slow Growth)

Acting swiftly on problems prevents team members from developing their problem-solving skills and undermines their confidence.

Awareness is key. Once you start to notice these behaviors, you can take steps to change them.

Making It Work for You

Transform your leadership style by recognizing these behaviors and adopting healthier alternatives. Here’s how:

  1. Empower, don’t rescue. Ask your team for solutions before stepping in.

  2. Balance optimism with reality. Acknowledge challenges while staying positive.

  3. Set realistic goals. Aim for attainable targets and celebrate milestones.

  4. Encourage team input. Moderate your presence. Let others speak before you jump in.

  5. Prioritize ideas. Filter them and only offer up the most impactful ones.

  6. Embrace imperfection. Allow for mistakes as learning opportunities.

  7. Pause before responding. Let your team address issues to build their skills and confidence.

Diving Deeper

Haven’t read Multipliers yet? I highly recommend it. In fact, it’s the leadership book I recommend most often. You can read the first chapter for free here.

Curious if you’re an Accidental Diminisher? Take this free quiz to find out.

Connecting the Dots

Leadership isn’t just about setting the direction and pace. It’s about creating an environment where your team can thrive and grow.

By avoiding these 7 mistakes and adopting healthier leadership practices, you won’t just enhance your team’s performance. You’ll also contribute to a more fulfilling and engaging workplace.

Remember, great leadership is about empowering others to achieve greatness.

Until next time, lead with intention.