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Don’t Make These Management Mistakes

Recalling the mistakes I've made during my management career to help you not do the same.


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Marvin Marcano

3 years ago | 4 min read

Recounting the times I’ve dropped the ball as a manager



The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. — Stephen Covey

I write a lot about management and leadership. It comes not only from my experience in management but from the fact that I know how powerful it can be. With the right leader, a team can exceed anything they set out to do. This covers all types of leaders: the captain of a sports team, the CEO of a company, or the parents of a family.

At the same time, leadership could be a large and difficult weight to bear, full of missteps and mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes over the years leading teams. I’ve made some as a father. Some lessons you learn with experience. Others were common sense things I neglected to do out of fear. Some of the world’s most famous leaders, dead or alive, could write a book about their mistakes. If you’re a leader or getting into leadership, don’t repeat the same mistakes I did.

1. Not having a clear mission/vision

What’s the main job of a leader? To take a group of persons from Point A to Point B.

Moses had to lead people from Point A to Point B. Your boss, your pastor, your Prime Minister or President. They all have to take you somewhere.

That starts with the leader having a vision, then set off on a mission to get it done, through the combined efforts of the team.

My first stints as a leader, I just sat at the head of the team, more as an escalation point than a leader. Even if it was a small team of 10, I did not have a vision for where I wanted to go, or where the team should go.

If you’re leading a team of 3 or 300, your first job is to decide where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

2. Poor Performance Management

Just because the team signed up for a job does not mean they will do it consistently. Managers must set expectations and hold themselves and others accountable. If you let something fester and not address it, you’ll end up with someone who can be toxic to the rest of the team. Consistency is another issue. There are always eyes on the leader. So if one person gets reprimanded, but not the other, credibility becomes an issue.

In my early days, I struggled with both issues. As I improved and became more confident, performance management became easier.

Having performance management conversations don’t need to be like a trip to the dentist. Just be open, honest, consistent, and timely.

3. Avoiding team conflict

As an introvert by nature, the less conflict in my life, the better. I’ve done a good bit of conflict avoidance. But the times when I worked through the conflict with the team, we make amazing breakthroughs.

Each person on the team has different beliefs, goals, and methods of operation. There will be clashes. Ignore this fact at your own risk.

4. Not leading by example

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. — John C. Maxwell

Nothing turns off a team more than a manager not willing to do what they do. While I’ve never had this issue, I’ve seen other managers struggle in this area. How could you tell someone how to speak to customers if you’re not willing to do so yourself? How can you reprimand others when you do the same thing?

“Do as I say, not as I do” is a recipe for failure.

5. Trusting but not verifying

Nothing sucks more than assigning a task, only to learn later that it was not done. I’ve trusted too much in the past, only to find myself with my pants down later.

Some persons need space and autonomy to work. But not everyone. Find the style that works best for each person by using real examples of success and failure.

And still, trust but verify.

6. Acting out of haste

In the book, Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday recounts the Missile Crisis in Cuba. President Kennedy had to do something after finding out about Russia’s mother lode of missiles. He did not react like most of his advisers wanted him to do. He carefully responded, and his cool head averted what would have been a catastrophe.

I’ve reacted out of anger, or ego a few times. It never ended well. Leaders are the de facto voice of reason. If you can’t analyze and respond in a manner beneficial to all, you’ll dig a deeper hole.

Everyone makes mistakes

Your leadership style and decision making won’t be perfect. But you need to have the basics down. Set a mission and vision, keep a cool head, manage performance, manage personalities, and step up. Consistency in these areas means any mistakes you make going forward, are ones worth making.


This was previously published on Medium.com.


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