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3 Deadly Leadership Mistakes You're Probably Making
Even if things seem to be going well, your business could be dying a slow death. Here's how to keep it alive and thriving.
Deadly Leadership Mistakes

By Rieva Lesonsky


This post originally appeared on OPEN Forum, an online community providing small business owners with information and advice to help them do more business.”





Are you feeling confident about your business’s future? Your customers keep placing new orders, your employees are working hard, your receivables are coming in on time, everything looks great. Not so fast: Take a closer look not at your business, but at yourself. Are you making these three mistakes that could doom your business to an untimely demise?

Not Delegating

“It will only take a few minutes.” “I need to handle this client.” “It’s faster if I do it myself.” If you frequently catch yourself saying any of these phrases as you add yet one more thing to your plate, you might be killing your business. True, maybe no one else can do X as well as you can—but maybe someone else can do it better. You’ll never know if you don’t delegate.


Not delegating kills your business in several ways:


  • You become a bottleneck. The rest of the staff spends days waiting for you to do that one little thing you’re too busy to get to. Result? Missed deadlines, missed opportunities, frustrated staff.

  • Your staff gets bored. They never get to expand their skills, because you never give them a chance to do the important jobs. Eventually, they’ll move on—to another company where the boss knows how to share responsibility.

  • You burn out. No one can do it all forever, and since you’re the one doing everything, what will happen to the company when you inevitably burn out and crash?

Not Strategizing

You’ve started delegating—good for you!—but your business can still suffer if you’re not taking time to strategize. Even when you delegate most tasks, it’s easy to spend all day putting out fires, answering questions, meeting with your team or dealing with the endless onslaught of email and social media.


No matter what, make time every week to spend by yourself engaging in big-picture thinking. Book this time out on your schedule and make it sacrosanct. (Consider getting out of the office and going someplace you won’t be bothered.) Then hold monthly, quarterly and annual strategy sessions where you pull in your key people and advisors. Business changes at the speed of light today, so you can’t afford to be reactive—you must be proactive.

Not Executing

Way to go—you’re delegating and strategizing, but there’s still one big mistake that could doom your company: failure to execute. Having a great idea is one thing, but executing on it is something else entirely. (How many people do you know who have some “great invention” they thought of but never did anything about?)


If you’re like most business owners, you have more good ideas than you know what to do with—especially if you’ve implemented those regular strategy sessions. But if you don't hone in on those with the biggest potential and make them happen, your business will never grow. End your strategy sessions by setting specific goals, planning action items and assigning them to members of your team. Then follow up and follow through to make sure they get done. Now you’re really the boss—of a thriving company. 


Photo from top: iStockphoto


The opinions expressed in this article are those of its individual writer, and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of American Express Canada or Amex Bank of Canada. Third party web sites may have privacy and security policies different from Amex Bank of Canada. Links to other web sites does not imply the endorsement or approval of such web sites.

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