Mistakes and Solutions

Thursday, January 24, 2019

By Dave Ramsey

Being a leader is a lot like writing a novel. Everyone thinks they can do it, but few do it well. Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned. And the most common way to learn and gain that necessary experience is by making big, whopping mistakes. Earning a Ph.D. in mess-uppery is an essential part of your business education.

Many of the lessons I teach are culled from mistakes. We made a mistake, that mistake caused us pain, and we vowed to never make that mistake again. Believe me, mistakes are painful in the business world. Learning from them is crucial to winning.

Less painful is learning from the mistakes of others. With that spirit in mind, let’s look at a few of the most common leadership mistakes and problems, along with solutions for fixing them.

Fear of failure
A small amount of fear is a healthy thing. It motivates you to leave the cave, kill something, and bring it home. But when it paralyzes you, it's a huge problem.

The solution: First, recognize that you are fearful and your concerns may be well-founded. A bad decision could cause you to be sued, or lose money, customers, and team members. But you can't let that possibility control you. The best way to kick fear right where it hurts is to come up with a system to deal with it. Setting deadlines, gathering facts and options, and working out the worst-case scenario are just a few examples of steps you can take to get over your fear.

Get it right, not right now
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is hiring too quickly. Often, they’re desperate because they need someone, but quick hires usually do nothing but create more problems down the road.

The solution: Take the time to find the perfect person for the job. Get the right people on the bus. At my office, people are run through the gauntlet before they’re hired. This includes at least four interviews, a personality test, and a meet-the-spouse session. The result of all that scrutiny is a company full of rock stars, and an incredibly low turnover rate.

The “nobody does it better” syndrome
Yes, I know. It's your baby, and no one can treat it as well as you. But micromanaged employees are unhappy employees. They will often leave, simply because they don’t want to endure the constant, intense scrutiny. In order for your team members to grow and become stronger, you have to let go.

The solution: Step back and let your team fly, no matter how nervous it makes you. Trust them! You were impressed by these people, and you hired them for a reason. Stop micromanaging, and allow them to perform to their full potential.

There is an exception to this rule, however. When someone first joins my team, they are heavily micromanaged until they prove their competency and integrity. I call this “training.”

The mistakes above are just a few of the most common. But there are many, many more you'll discover on your own. Just remember to learn from your miscues, and never let mistakes hold you back. George Bernard Shaw once said, "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."

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