The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid as a Business Owner

leadership mistakes

Do you try to do everything yourself? Ask too much of your staff? Here are the top five leadership mistakes business owners should avoid.

With all the responsibilities business owners have to stay on top of, taking the time to put work and careful self-reflection into effective leadership can slip down the list of priorities. Yet it's one of the most crucial aspects of running a business. Here are five leadership mistakes business owners make — and how to avoid them.

Valuing Money Over Time

Money matters, of course. But trying to keep costs down by being a jack-of-all-trades instead of investing in time-saving tools is a losing game. Avoid this common leadership pitfall by outsourcing work that involves repetitive tasks or specialized knowledge. Specific areas to consider outsourcing may include office cleaning, payroll, web design and IT support, to name just a few.

Reducing your individual workload allows you to free up time to focus on core activities that will make your business grow.


Similarly, not having enough staff is another common leadership mistake business owners make. Understaffing can lead to errors and the time-consuming need to redo work that was not done well the first time around, as well as increased employee turnover and overtime expenses that may end up being more costly than hiring additional help. Just as paying to outsource certain functions is a more sustainable use of resources than scrambling to do everything yourself, you more than likely need capable in-house staff to keep up with day-to-day business needs and get the job done well.

Determine the staffing level your business needs to avoid overburdening — and burning out — your employees with responsibilities and stress. This, in turn, ensures that you have the support you need to stay committed to both employee and customer satisfaction.

Not Delegating Work

"If you want something done right, do it yourself." Business owners who follow this mantra may actually do their business a disservice. Not only do you risk burning yourself out, but you could also cause mistrust and dissatisfaction to grow among your employees. After all, if you don't trust them, why should they trust you?

Once you've hired specialized staff, give them a project and let them run with it. The more ownership your employees have over the work your company does, the more engaged they'll feel and the harder they'll try to excel. While you shouldn't stop providing guidance, oversight and feedback, delegating work can truly be beneficial for you and your staff.

Not Appreciating the Small Wins

Recognizing the big wins in business makes sense. You finished a long-term project, secured a major deal or launched a new product — it's time to celebrate. But showing appreciation for the small wins along the way may be even more important.

Give your employees a shoutout or pat on the back for the smaller accomplishments that help your business reach its bigger goals. Proper employee recognition can help promote motivation, productivity and innovation — factors that help businesses thrive.

Lack of Vision

If you lack a clear vision about where your organization should go, your business could suffer in two ways. First, it may be difficult to achieve positive business outcomes. Second, you may struggle to attract and retain talent.

"A lack of vision will result in unfocused projects, improper resources planning, inaccurate metrics for success and a lack of buy-in from the rest of the organization," says Cindy J. Ford, a vice president and general manager at IT solutions provider Cogeco Peer 1. To avoid this trap, Ford suggests that leaders champion a vision that aligns with the entire business in order to reach desired goals.

While leadership mistakes are easy to fall into, they're usually reversible. So focus on making positive changes moving forward.