9 of the Most Common Leadership Mistakes

An image with how important good impressions are to leadership

Working environments are changing and leaders need to continually understand the best approach towards getting the best out of the people around them. So below are 9 of the most common leadership mistakes and what you can do to avoid them to save yourself some time-consuming and costly firefighting.


  1. Not Providing Feedback

According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, it is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t give prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

It is important for leaders to look for random opportunities on an ongoing basis to give feedback using appropriate team moments to send a message about good practice and one-to-one moments for more descriptive, personal and directional feedback.

  1. Lacking Tact

The ability to tell the truth in a way that considers other people’s feelings and reactions to avoid conflict and find common ground. Being tactful will strengthen your reputation, credibility and ability to influence positive outcomes.

To develop the skill, become a more active listener, show empathy, and think more carefully about the right time to talk, as well as your choice of words and your body language. Most importantly, never react emotionally. By being more tactful you will also provide additional balance and strength for the times where you have to get your message across more forcefully and ensure that your rights are respected.

  1. Not Leading by Example

‘A manager is a title given and a leader is a title earned’

It’s a ‘show me’ role where others look to leaders for the values to adopt, the process to trust, and the procedures to follow to deliver results. When you seem disengaged from business activity, show unprofessional behaviors or fail to play by the frameworks and standards that you set others, you undermine your very own leadership.

Be aware that your team is watching and listening to you all the time. If you want to shape their behaviors you have to start with your own. Show them the way and they will follow suit.

  1. Overlooking the Cultural Environment

The way that you do things may get the best response in one scenario but may produce negative outcomes in another. Assess the fit between your leadership style and your working environment to identify where and how adjustments can be made. Understand your people, your end game and adapt your style to the situation and the individual.

  1. Failing to Define Goals

Without a focus on clear goals and objectives your team will lack direction, your expectations and they cannot be productive or prioritize their workloads. Set SMART goals that are aligned with business objectives and embed them with regular two-way communication for clarity, reinforcement and motivation towards a goal focused environment.

  1. Lacking Decisiveness

Procrastination, indecisiveness and moving the goal posts fail to inspire the confidence of your team and can be a fatal to your leadership.  To help make better decisions in a timely manner commit to a process.  Create a constructive environment that investigates situations in detail, generates a well-considered set of options, then selects, actions and leaves the rest to monitoring, review and development.

  1. Overstepping the Friendship Line

It is important to be seen as friendly and approachable. However there is a line to be drawn at ‘results’ and it should be respected at all times. Be wary not to get caught up emotionally as a friend to the point it clouds your judgment when it comes to tough decision-making. Your primary concern is the business goal, so ensure that everyone understands that fun and games is part and parcel of the journey but always comes second to the business needs.

  1. Using Blanket Motivation Methods

Misunderstanding what it takes to motivate your team. Firstly, many leaders fail to think and act beyond money motivation. Secondly many fail to distinguish motivating the team separately from the individual.

The team can be motivated with empowerment and autonomy, collaborative working, recognition, titles, goals and more. But you also have to motivate at the  individual level. That overlaps with the above and extends to more such as work place culture, progression, extra responsibility, purposeful work and greater work life balance.  So find the time to interact and get to know what truly drives your people.

  1. Poor Delegation

Delegating effectively is a leader’s most powerful tool. However many refrain for lack trust in the capabilities of colleagues to do the job properly, or do it how they would do it. As a result leaders can become the bottleneck that holds performance back as well as related problems that cause stress and fatigue.

It takes a lot of effort up-front but embrace your role as a coach. Understand and trust in your colleagues capabilities. Aim to become better at giving excellent instructions and being hands on to boost and follow up on performance were required. Also hone your skills in corrective coaching and allow your team to be more empowered and grow. Good communication is paramount.


Your leadership and management style is exempt from the fail fast and learn philosophy because whilst failure will help you to learn they can have a heavy price to pay. By taking the time to learn how to avoid common mistakes you will shine by standing on the shoulder of giants who already failed so that you can learn how to become a more successful leader.

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn 

The 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy

Simply put, without a content marketing strategy in place there would be no road map that outlines your plans to advance your organisational goals supported by metrics or milestones, in a clearly aligned and integrated way.

There are two crucial factors to bear in mind about your content strategy. The first is to view it as a framework that sets the focus for creativity and innovation processes that produce a highly effective portfolio of paid, owed and earned content. The second is that content strategy is an integrated marketing philosophy closely linked with the sales funnel, search marketing via keywords, and social media although it should ideally come before social media strategy and ultimately help shape it.

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, quality content should underpin all forms of your offline and/or online marketing.

 How to devise a content marketing strategy


A diagram of the 7 pillars of content marketing

Plan for Purpose
– Specifying the smart strategic objectives and the goals. Have clearly defined business goals with content that are the overarching reason every piece of content exists.


  • Include a content marketing mission statement to provide better focus for tactics
  • Aim to conquer the 3 prongs of content marketing – Socialise, Publicise AND Optimise
  • The strategy should be a framework that ignites creativity and innovation so avoid it being too prescriptive and limiting
  • Be familiar with the types of content marketing goals:

Common Content Marketing Goals

– Includes the overview of the current intelligence about your target segments or personas and positioning. Continue to develop your target personas and communicate intelligence to your people.


  • Develop personas to target – Two simple ways to do this are
    • For B2C – As a starting point is use Google Analytics to find out details like age, gender, and understand journeys through your website via clicks and times on site
    • For B2B – Use at least one of the following in order of popularity according to Content Marketing Institute B2B research: Industry trends; the profiles of individual decision makers; company characteristics; stage in the buying cycle
  • Resources permitting, look for synergies between your online personas and offline personas for a more holistic view

People – The details of the tasks, timescales, responsibilities and procedures for everyone in the content process including cross-functional colleagues and external partners.


  • Consider the role of third-party content e.g user generated content, guest blogs etc towards the bigger picture
  • Influential and collaborative leadership skills are best suited towards managing external partnership relationships including influencer marketing. Analyse whether their goals, resources and capabilities are the right fit and a collaborative partnership can flourish. For more guidance perhaps read ‘Better stakeholder management’

Storyline and Principles – The brand storyline for the campaign(s) and the fundamental propositions that are the foundations for conversations including style guides, tone and design guidance.


  • Before doing content marketing identify your unique brand story and values. To do so use the ‘who, what, were, why, when and how’ technique or the ‘5 Whys’ technique
  • You want to provide a framework to create kick ass content that adds value, solves a pain point or entertains whilst infusing it with your brand story to develop unique content propositions
  • Don’t limit your brand. Your content can go beyond what you sell to what your target audience loves and shares such as the case of Red Bull’s content focuses on extreme sports

Channels – The decisions in light of your plan and audience(s) as to where you will source, create, publish and amplify content


  • Plan the journey and tailor to the channels – Consider ‘who’ are our targets segments (personas), ‘what’ content resonates best ‘ and where’ best to find them
  • Stress the need to select keywords that align with your goals for website and content strategy
  • Integrate with offline content – utilize mind maps to help develop strategy with a structure that assists information architecture

Processes – Highlighting a series of actions to repeat with each piece of content, including set of criteria for sign-off.


  • Provide scope for real-time marketing (RTM) or reactive marketing (near-time) including integrating your crisis communications protocols that deal with negative PR and trolls
  • For outsourcing content creation aim to write outstanding ‘on brand’ and to objective content briefs
  • Set realistic timelines for content production and distribution
  • Use technology to collaborate around content ideas and processes. For instance, I use apps like Trello and Evernote that operate and synchronise across desktop and mobile devices

Performance Measurement – Specifying the budget, benchmarks and measurement. This is not just ROI, shares and likes, but must be related back to purpose.


  • Devise a good hierarchy of organisational goals from top line KPI’s through to headline content success metrics and then lower level content optimization metrics
  • For ROI measurement work towards arriving at a point where you can calculate your costs across – Planning, Ideation, Production, Distribution, Measurement. Use a consolidated set of analytic tools and invest the time ahead of every campaign to set up tagging, grouping and tracking which will pay dividends for more accurate real-time / near-time tracking of your content marketing ROI

With these tips hopefully you will be on your way to creating or adjusting your content marketing strategy and producing better results. Be sure to add any further tips and best practices that work for you in the comments below.

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn