5 Common Mistakes CEOs Make

Being a CEO comes with huge responsibilities. You are in charge of making important decisions that affect everyone who follows you. Good or bad, it all comes down to you — being a leader is no small feat! Fortunately, we can learn from the people who came before us. Let’s explore some of the most common mistakes that CEOs make and what you should be doing instead.

The Most Common Challenges of Being a CEO

Don’t fall prey to these common blunders.

1. Micromanaging the Team(s)

Being a CEO means you’re at the center of everything in the company. Major decisions depend on you. Thus, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of being overly hands-on with daily activities and constantly looking over your employees’ shoulders.

Being a micromanager does more harm than good to your company. Micromanaging steals much of your precious time that could otherwise be used for strategic thinking. It hurts the relationship and trust between you and your employees. It can even lead to an increase in employee turnover and burnout.

There is no reason for you to be the one to do everything. Instead of hovering over your employees every day, trust them to handle tasks independently. Set clear goals, clarify the company’s mission and objectives and why they are essential, and be confident that your team can accomplish their deliverables. After all, that’s why you hired them!

female CEO and her team

2. Communicating Poorly or Ineffectively

Impactful communication is critical to the success of any business. A CEO who fails to communicate effectively to their employees may miss important information needed to make essential business decisions. In addition, if the CEO fails to make their vision and goals clear to the employees, they may find that the team is working on the incorrect goals, wasting a ton of resources and time.

One-directional communication is another mistake that CEOs make. Some CEOs only want to issue directions but do not listen to or consider the views of others. This one-way street can be a bad recipe for the business — communication must go both ways.

When you are the CEO, it might be hard to digest different views from your juniors. However, failing to listen to your employees could spell disaster down the road. Listening is a great tool for gathering different views about the organization and helps to foster a collaborative spirit.

As a CEO, you should encourage a culture of open communication. There needs to be more than the random email or sporadic Slack message. Set up regular meetings and be an active listener in them. Create simple methods for receiving feedback, such as suggestion boxes or surveys. And encourage an open-door policy so that people always feel heard.

3. Failing to Take Time Off

I know that having any sense of work-life balance can be difficult as a CEO. Most corporate environments are fast-paced, with early mornings, busy days, and late nights. Constant work without rest can reduce productivity, diminish creativity, and strain relationships between you and your employees.

When CEOs don’t take a step back and rest, they get swallowed by the minutiae of day-to-day details and lose perspective of where the company is heading. Plus, working 24/ 7 can lead to numerous negative impacts on your physical and mental health.

It’s vital to unplug from work and make time to recharge. Taking time off reduces the physical effects of stress on the body and replenishes the mind.

CEO resting outside in nature

4. Making Decisions Too Quickly

As a CEO, you might believe that making fast decisions can keep things moving. And indeed, quick thinking — especially under pressure — is a great skill to have. However, if you take this too far, you prioritize the speed of decision-making over the decision itself, and you skip important parts such as assessing alternatives and consulting with other key players. 

Making erratic decisions can cost your company time and resources. Before making any decision in your company, think about its outcome and ask yourself important questions like:

  • How risky is my decision?
  • Who will it impact?
  • How will it affect my business?
  • What are my other options?

To avoid making mistakes, you should approach decision-making with discipline. Employ a systematic approach that involves other people and strategic thinking to make informed choices.

5. Disconnecting from Your Staff

Being a CEO means that you have a lot on your plate. Maybe too much. Meeting with stakeholders, attending external events, going to fundraising activities, and public speaking — while all these activities are essential, remaining close to your company and leading from the front is always good.

You should never make your team feel that you are too busy for them. Disconnecting yourself from your employees, company values, and culture can be disastrous. You can lose valuable employees and their trust and ultimately stunt business growth. 

A CEO needs to be visible and accessible to their employees. Employees feel inspired and motivated when they work for leaders who are present. Don’t get so caught up in the high-level stuff that you forget the people who are keeping the business running.

Being the CEO of your company is a marathon, not a sprint. You will never stop learning, no matter how experienced you are. That’s part of the adventure! Leading a company will always keep you on your toes.

Avoid micromanaging your employees, prioritize healthy communication, take time away from work, consider your decisions carefully, and be present for your team. If you follow these key best practices, you’re on your way to being an effective and impactful leader.

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Author: Jonathan Baktari MD

CEO of e7health and US Drug Test Centers

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Jonathan Baktari MD

Jonathan Baktari, MD brings over 20 years of clinical, administrative and entrepreneurial experience to lead the current e7 Health team. He has been a triple board-certified physician with specialties in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine. He has been the Medical Director of The Valley Health Systems, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Culinary Health Fund and currently is the CEO of two healthcare companies.
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