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Leadership Mistakes


"Leader is a position. Leadership is a behavior."

While there are many versions of this out in the world it remains a great distinction.  To the originator of this, we thank you, whoever you are!

Leader is likely in your job description somewhere.  It's in our leadership behaviors where we most often find problems.  It's inevitable...we're going to make mistakes.  We're human after all.  The only real failure is not learning from failure.

Here are some mistakes we (humans) can make when leading others:

  • Putting ourselves ahead of others
  • Betraying their trust
  • Being certain in an uncertain world
  • Not living up to our values
  • Getting overly enamored with our own vision
  • Being arrogant
  • Acting too fast (reacting instead of responding)
  • It's all about the leader, all the time
  • Not being authentic
  • Not being self-reflective/aware

Here's a Top-10 list of things leaders can work toward for effective leadership behaviors:

  1. Work toward trust; our behaviors provide the evidence that we're trustworthy!
  2. Help everyone win
  3. Show everyone respect; listen & learn
  4. Make decisions that are the best for the team/enterprise
  5. Be engaged
  6. Confront issues right away with compassion & courage
  7. Get to know each other
  8. Keep expectations clear; being clear is kind
  9. Work hard & have fun; run the experiment
  10. Believe in yourself; you are enough!

The best leaders can let you to fail but won't allow you to feel like a failure.


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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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