Why Do Great Leaders Make Bad Decisions?

July 1, 2015 Zuman

leader_mistake-750x422Even exceptional leaders aren’t infallible. Employees want their managers to serve as role models, but leaders can still make mistakes, especially when it comes to big decisions that affect an entire team or division.

Studies have shown acquiring power may make you less empathetic and less able to adapt your practices to other people, Harvard Business Review reported. Over time, responsibility may even change how leaders make decisions. The most common leadership failures often aren’t crimes or scandals, but simple, everyday, bad decisions that affect employees.

Focusing Too Much on the Past
Great leaders often have a variety of relevant past experience with certain management issues, but completely relying on this knowledge can lead to problems. Prior experiences can be especially problematic when leaders are trying to translate something they did in a previous company to a new role in a different organization, according to Forbes. If the two companies have different cultures and goals, using the past as a crutch may not work.

Seasoned leaders may think every issue they face is a different variation of a problem they have tackled in the past, but this line of thinking is a trap. Great leaders need to have a strong understanding of their new environment, team structures and the potential for any issues. This helps them be more mindful and make better decisions.

Too Caught Up in Corporate Biases
All companies have office politics, but to make more effective decisions, it’s important for leaders to not get bogged down with other peoples’ agendas. Falling in line with company politics can be an even worse issue when these motives don’t align with a leader’s personal beliefs, causing him or her to make poor decisions. It’s highly likely that employees will be unhappy with these decisions.

Although leaders are under pressure to make the right choices from multiple fronts, not listening to feedback from others may cause issues. To be an effective leader, managers need to build healthy, working relationships with their teams. Without an open line of communication, employees may not trust their managers. Despite the pressure, leaders can alienate their employees if they act like they have all the answers when they don’t.

What Can Leaders Do to Avoid Bad Decisions?
If you’re falling victim to poor decisions, it may be time to improve your self-awareness. Leaders need to take stock of their strengths and weaknesses to make adjustments and set themselves up for more successful initiatives in the future. It can be difficult to assess your personal performance, but you need to be aware if you’re facing roadblocks on the way to great leadership.

Depending on the decision, it may be beneficial to ask others for their input. Decision-making doesn’t always happen in a vacuum. Leaders who isolate themselves to make key decisions may end up choosing wrong and negatively impacting their teams. You need to have a stronger understanding of your personal management style to make the right decisions.

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