9 Mistakes Business Leaders Make

Mistakes business leaders make examples

Leadership is a tough job. You’re never going to please everyone all the time, and critics will always find something wrong with your approach. That said, there are some common traps that even seasoned business leaders fall into.

Here are the top mistakes to avoid as a business leader.

1. Not having a long-term strategy

Business leaders who neglect long-term strategic planning often expose their organizations to significant risks and missed opportunities. Whether it’s a five-year or ten-year plan, companies may struggle to adapt without a clear roadmap for the future. 

This includes trouble adapting to changes in: 

  • Market dynamics
  • Technology advancements 
  • Competitive landscapes 


This lack of foresight can lead to reactionary decision-making and hinder sustainable growth. Additionally, the absence of a long-term strategy may result in:

  • Resource misallocation 
  • Insufficient talent development
  • Failure to build resilience against unforeseen challenges 


Successful businesses thrive on vision, adaptability, and goal-oriented planning. This makes a long-term strategy crucial for navigating uncertainties and fostering sustained success.

2. Poor communication

Ineffective communication is a common error among business leaders. It extends beyond speech, hinging on attentive listening. Leaders often err by solely focusing on giving information without creating a dialogue. Just consider your last staff meeting. Was it mostly you speaking at people? 

True communication is a two-way street where employees feel empowered to voice concerns and ideas. 

Failure in this regard: 

  • Stifle innovation 
  • Hampers problem-solving 
  • Demotivates teams


A culture that fosters open communication enhances internal relationships and facilitates quicker adaptation to market changes. Neglecting the importance of both speaking and listening can undermine collaboration, hindering employee engagement and impeding overall organizational success.

3. Not taking responsibility

Leaders who evade responsibility risk damaging their relationships with employees. Refusing to acknowledge mistakes creates an atmosphere of resentment and fear. Employees, fearing repercussions, become reluctant to propose innovative ideas or take calculated risks. 

Effective leaders recognize that accountability is crucial for fostering trust and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement. By embracing responsibility, leaders set a precedent for honesty and resilience. This paves the way for a collaborative and innovative workplace where learning from failures is valued.

4. Fearing failure

Business leaders who fear failure hinder their organizations in today’s dynamic, tech-driven landscape. The truth is that embracing the “fail fast” mantra is essential. In the pursuit of innovation, testing ideas, and learning from mistakes, a fear of failure can stifle creativity and impede progress. 

The most successful companies understand that setbacks are integral to growth, providing valuable insights for refinement. Leaders who foster a culture that accepts and learns from failure not only encourage innovation but also instill resilience in their teams. Embracing failure as a stepping stone to success is critical in navigating the ever-evolving business environment.

5. A poor IT strategy 

Business leaders neglecting a robust IT strategy make a critical error. Every company is essentially a tech company these days. This means that a poorly crafted IT strategy can lead to:

  • Inefficiencies 
  • Security vulnerabilities 
  • A failure to leverage technological advancements 


In a digital era, technology underpins operations, customer experiences, and competitive edges. Leaders who underestimate the strategic importance of IT risk falling behind, facing operational bottlenecks, and compromising data security. 

A well-defined IT strategy aligns technology initiatives with business objectives. This ensures scalability and adaptability in an environment where technological prowess is synonymous with business success.

6. Not having standard operating procedures

The absence of standard operating procedures (SOPs) is a mistake that inhibits organizational efficiency and growth. Neglecting SOPs, even in a small business, undermines consistency and quality. 


  • Streamline processes 
  • Enhance productivity 
  • Provide a foundation for scaling operations 


Acting like a big business, even in a small setup, demands the structure that SOPs provide. Without them, your business risks inefficiency and hindered scalability, hindering its ability to navigate growth and maintain a competitive edge.

7. Not having a growth plan for your employees

Failing to establish a growth plan for employees is a critical mistake for business leaders. Ambitious and hardworking employees, akin to their leaders, seek career development pathways. Without a structured growth plan, businesses risk losing talented individuals to competitors offering clearer trajectories. 

Recognizing and nurturing employee potential not only boosts morale but also cultivates loyalty and expertise within the organization. A lack of growth opportunities can lead to stagnation and diminishing motivation. The result is hindered progress and adaptability of your company in a competitive landscape where attracting and retaining skilled professionals is paramount.

8. Overcompensating on customer service

This may ruffle some feathers, but the old saying “the customer is always right” isn’t always true. Failing to set boundaries may compromise: 

  • Integrity 
  • Profitability 
  • Employee well-being 


It’s crucial to identify ideal customers and prioritize their needs, aligning service efforts with strategic goals. Drawing clear distinctions about the customer base ensures resources are directed efficiently, preventing unnecessary concessions that may harm the bottom line. 

Striking a balance between exceptional service and safeguarding your business’s interests is essential for sustainable success. It emphasizes the importance of thoughtful customer engagement over unconditional accommodation.

9. Not getting help

Not seeking help is a major mistake as the complexity of today’s challenges demands diverse perspectives. Advisors, mentors, and external firms provide invaluable insights, tapping into collective wisdom and experience. Avoiding external input limits problem-solving potential. 

Collaboration fosters growth, offering fresh viewpoints and expertise. Smart leaders recognize the benefit of learning from others, leveraging a network of support to navigate uncertainties, make informed decisions, and stay agile in an ever-evolving business landscape. The humility to seek help is a strength that propels leaders toward sustained success.

Does your company need help with its long-term IT strategy? Contact us today to start a conversation!

Leadership mistakes are varied but notably impactful in shaping the trajectory of a business. Neglecting a long-term strategy exposes organizations to risks and missed opportunities. Insufficient communication compounds these challenges. Dodging responsibility damages relationships while a fear of failure can stifle creativity in today’s dynamic business landscape. In the digital era, underestimating the importance of a robust IT strategy leads to inefficiencies and security compromises. 

An absence of standard operating procedures inhibits efficiency and scalability, and a lack of growth plans for employees risks talent loss. Overcompensating on customer service by blindly adhering to “the customer is always right” compromises integrity and profitability. Lastly, the reluctance to seek help limits innovation, emphasizing the importance of collaboration with advisors, mentors, and external firms for diverse perspectives and informed decision-making.

In 2016, TenHats built the region’s first purpose-built colocation data center in over 20 years. Located in Knoxville, TN, our data center can serve any organization in East Tennessee and beyond. With our team’s IT experience, we provide a lot more than simply protected data. When you call us, you talk to a real IT expert. Connect with our team about our data center today!

Picture of Aaron Sherrill

Aaron Sherrill

Aaron is the Chief Technology Officer at TenHats leading the technology, cybersecurity, and data center teams of our organization. He has 25+ years of IT and security experience spanning across a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, and software development.

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