A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 10, 2021

The Most Common Things That Leaders Forget

Leadership is hard enough when there isnt a global pandemic and recession. 

Covid - and its attendant remote work, disrupted supply chains and changing customer demands - has made leadership even more challenging. But it has also provided opportunities to reconsider what makes organizations and those who head them great or even greater. JL 

John Rampton reports in Medium:

With a lot on their plate, there are times when leaders forget to do things. Learning what other leaders forget can provide a lesson for anyone on the path to leadership: Forgetting to make the most of opportunities; forgetting to anticipate problems; forgetting to evolve the organization; forgetting to lead changes; forgetting to groom a replacement; forgetting to create balance; forgetting to listen to employees; forgetting to work on weaknesses or to continue with professional development; forgetting to lead by the heart; forgetting to be brave; forgetting to dream.

Here are 12 common things that leaders have been known to forget:

  1. Forgetting to make the most of available opportunities. Often focused more on the potential risks or barriers that have to be addressed in the market, a leader can miss out on opportunities that otherwise seem like they are right in front of them. These opportunities could be external in the form of a market win or it could be internal and involve a super star performer that a leader completely overlooks. For a leader, this doesn’t mean that they are forgetting to be positive or optimistic; it simply means that a leader has to have their eyes peeled for anything that may be advantageous for the company or that differentiates them from the competition.
  2. Forgetting to anticipate any problems. When things are going great or even when a leader is dealing with specific issues, it can be easy to forget to think about what other problems could arise or what could stop the company’s current success in its future tracks. A leader must run many potential scenarios in their head at all times and be attuned to what is going on around them so their “spidey senses” detect any issues that could arise so they can begin to prep for addressing those problems.
  3. Forgetting to evolve the organization. A leader may not realize that they are becoming complacent with the current success that the organization is achieving and will forget that, in order to stay relevant and satisfy a customer base’s often changing needs and desires, the leader must evolve the organization. If a leader forgets about the benefits of an evolutionary mindset, natural selection will take over and those companies (and competitors) that do adapt to the new environment will be the ones to survive. A leader needs to put the necessary resources into studying the market and external conditions as well as the internal state of the company to determine a need for evolution and a plan for how it will happen.
  4. Forgetting to lead changes. While a leader may have outlined the changes that need to be made within an organization and determined why these are necessary, the leader may forget to actually take up the cause and motivate everyone else to actually make the changes. A leader cannot expect what is often a traumatic and scary event to just take place without them actually stepping out into the forefront to guide everyone else through it until all the change is completed. These are the leaders who end up wondering why the change never really did what it was supposed to do. Don’t forget to be present and active in the change process. Also, keep in mind that trends change, and if you’re business isn’t leading those changes you will be obsolete overnight.
  5. Forgetting to groom a replacement. It’s hard for a leader to think that someone will replace them one day, but it is critical that a leader is ready with a candidate and works with them directly to ensure they continue to provide the same culture and operating environment. Succession planning is a must even if retirement feels is so far away. It’s important to start planning now with candidates in mind as a replacement to ensure that the organization continues smoothly and without a traumatic disruption.
  6. Forgetting to create balance. A leader may be so caught up and passionate about the organization and their employees’ wellbeing that he or she neglects themselves. In order to maintain a certain level of energy and enthusiasm as well as mental clarity, a leader cannot forget to consider how to create a healthy and balanced lifestyle between their personal and professional lives. A leader cannot work all the time and expect to maintain that optimum performance level, so they must remember to get rest, eat well, exercise and enjoy social time with loved ones. By taking care of themselves, a leader is more than likely to do a better job of taking care of the organization and the staff.
  7. Forgetting to listen to employees. A leader may forget that employees have great ideas and can provide a different perspective that may actually even solve a long-standing problem. It’s easy to think that because a leader has more experience and knowledge that no one else can tell them anything. However, forgetting that solutions come from everywhere is a detriment to the organization. Also, if a leader forgets to listen to employees, they might just conveniently forget to listen to him or her.
  8. Forgetting to work on weaknesses. It’s not surprising that most people don’t want to think about those things that they aren’t very good at, but it is critical that a leader actually remind themselves of these weaknesses. The strengths are easy to remember, but they must be put on the back burner for a while so a leader can give any weaknesses their full attention. Any of these weaknesses could adversely impact employees and the organization so it is important to keep these top of mind while also continuing to work on them so they are turned into strengths over time.
  9. Forgetting to continue with professional development. In being busy and taking on the responsibility of leading, it is easy to forget that there should still be time for an ongoing learning process and enhancement of skills. Reaching the top position in a company is not an excuse to stop professional (and personal) development. A person can still hone their leadership skills and other capabilities as well as learn more about their industry and new technologies. Don’t ever forget that everyone has the potential for improvement.
  10. Forgetting to lead by the heart. A leader may think that emotions should be sealed up in a box as a leader because they may not be taken seriously otherwise. Instead, it is these emotions that are vital if a person is going to be doing something that involves a lot of people. It’s okay for a leader to show their emotions and acknowledge that they are human and understand how employees feel. This humanizes a company’s leader and actually, when used appropriately, increase the bond between a leader and their staff and build a deeper respect.
  11. Forgetting to be brave. Failure and the risk are part of the leadership process so a leader needs to remember to be brave but rarely does. Instead, that’s when doubt sets in and worry about what could happen and what the team might think if failure is the result. Instead, a leader must always focus on bravery and taking that leap to show their team that it is okay to take risk and try new things. It’s courageous and is what sets an organization apart from its competition.
  12. Forgetting to dream. A leader should continue to dream about what the future of the company could look like, but often they forget because they are caught up in the short-term outlook for the company or are putting out daily fires. The dreams and visions for the organization are what fuel innovation and generate deeper value. A leader who can imagine what the company might be like provides inspiration and excitement in their team to also dream and create ideas for improving the workplace or adding more value to a new or existing product.

For a leader, there is a lot to remember and just as much that can be forgotten. Maybe seeing these 12 areas will jog your memory as a leader or you will take them to heart as you work towards a leadership position. I have personally been working on remembering and using as many as I possibly can because the ability to be creative, collaborative, brave, open and balanced, among other things, can truly take my leadership ability to the next level as well as propel my organization toward new opportunities.


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