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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

5 + 5 = 10 Mistakes to Avoid

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Based on a study of 11,000 360 degree surveys reported in the Harvard Business Review, leadership feedback gurus Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have identified ten behaviors found in the bottom 10% of leaders.

The top five mistakes they make are:

  1. Lack energy and enthusiasm
  2. Accept their own mediocre performance
  3. Lack clear vision and direction
  4. Have poor judgment
  5. Don't collaborate

Pretty easy to see how leaders in the bottom 10% would have characteristics like that. But what about leaders in the top 10% or 20%? How do they run off the rails? (And they do up to 40% of the time.)

In our Next Level Leadershipâ"¢ group coaching program, we've run a 360 over the past three years on the skills and behaviors that rising executives need to exhibit to make successful transitions. We've run it with almost 400 executives at this point and, out of 72 specific behaviors, the bottom five in our database are:

  1. Paces himself/herself by building in regular breaks from work.
  2. Manages workload so that he/she has time for unexpected problems or issues.
  3. Spends less time using his/her functional skills and more time encouraging team members to use theirs.
  4. Regularly takes time to step back and define or redefine what needs to be done.
  5. Focuses less on day to day operations and more on identifying and taking advantage of strategic opportunities.

If you're like me, when you see a list of ten mistakes to avoid, you immediately start scanning it with the question in mind, "OK, am I doing any of these?" If you find that you are, pick one to work on that you think will make the biggest difference and enlist the help of some trusted colleagues for advice on how to be better.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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