One of the key reasons for founding Up Strong almost a year ago was to assist business professionals with practical support which I have learned during my 20-year long career, of which 10 years as chief executive in life sciences. Key learnings were always the result of making mistakes and supported by courses / coaching sessions which I was able to take during those years.
While I do definitely value these management courses and certified coaching sessions, I have also been a strong believer in interacting with seniors and peers discussing on practical aspects they have encountered and learned much from these conversations over the years.
I am convinced that in order to be successful in business, you have to be able to really go all out and be decisive. A crucial aspect in this, is that by making those decisions you will definitely encounter several mistakes that you will make along the way.
Below, I have listed key mistakes I made during my career which all helped me to be successful, but most importantly made me grow and be happier on a personal level.
1) Being perfectionistic, both for yourself but also for your employees
Striving towards the best possible solution is in principle admirable, but the price for this is often too high. The problem is that it causes massive stress and discomfort, you are never done, you will be putting the bar for others unrealistically high, you have difficulties with delegating, you will never relax or take care of your personal health and finally your creativity will suffer.
Effective and excellent are not the same as perfect, and the moment you will accept that this is sufficient, not only your stress level, but even more importantly that of those around you will go down as well. Giving trust and believing in the ones around you does go a long way.
2) Only seeing your way of working as correct
Linked to being perfectionistic is that you are trying to force others to achieve goals and targets in exactly the same way as you would do it yourself. Of course, the goals and targets need to be carefully planned and clearly described, however the road how to get there should most definitely not be set in stone. There are really many ways towards Rome and as a magically side-effect of this, very useful insights, business opportunities and creativity can arise by using a different road.
Letting others to take their own road will improve their effectiveness, responsibility & accountability and working pleasure (both from IQ and EQ perspective).
3) Failing to truly listen when you are communicating with others
Effective communication very often means taking the time to listen to others and respecting their style of communication. The ability to truly see their perspective on a matter, even whilst it is completely different than yours, will enable you to subsequently find the common ground with a joint perspective.
Achieving this joint perspective will result in clear goal setting, joint expectation management and will be a very important factor in order to achieve joint success.
4) Failing to truly focus, results in achieving average results at best
In order to achieve extraordinary results, the ability to truly achieve focus during your workdays is of crucial importance. This goes further than simply blocking part of your agenda to address the most important tasks. It also involves a clear-thinking process to determine which tasks do contribute and which tasks cause distractions towards your key goals and your purpose.
Start developing a habit of no longer doing those tasks that won’t contribute towards your goals, and if something truly urgent (which is really only a minority of those tasks that distract…), make sure that you will re-schedule your original task (instead of skipping it). And by the way, I do not believe in 12-hour workdays to be effective (your family would like to have you back for dinner), so the solution for focus is not to simply work longer but work smarter!
5) Being already on Mars while your team is still on Earth won’t help
You are extremely efficient, creative and have hundreds of ideas in your mind. If this sounds familiar, you are a gifted person. But be very careful not to let it go to waste when you are simply spill it out all the time in a non-structured way, not checking in with your team whether they are still with you.
Make sure you are fully aligned with your team on your ideas, goals and plans in order for them to be able to effectively contribute to the success of the company. Your team is a crucial asset for your own success (otherwise all your ideas will only be partly executed at most), so it is important to make a joint effort towards achieving your goals.
6) Underestimating the power of EQ development
From kindergarten onwards up until university, we mostly focus around developing knowledge and skills which involve IQ. IQ is of course important and needs to be at adequate levels in order to perform your basic job, but what makes one employee excel over the other? Or what makes your success? Most of the time this does not involve IQ, but EQ plays a crucial role!
Investing a lot in developing your EQ during your career will enable you to achieve loads of things, both in business and private life. In fact, most of the previously mentioned mistakes and the respective changes that I made subsequently are based around my EQ skills being developed over time.