Life, Liberty, & Happiness

New Leaders: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid


tarting a new role is never easy. Often new leaders set themselves up for failure by simply falling into the common traps associated with taking on a new role of leadership.

Here are 7 pitfalls to avoid when taking on a leadership role:

Setting Unrealistic Expectations
The all-too-human desire to impress one’s higher authority often pressures new leaders to create unrealistic expectations.  Be sure your work targets and goals are built around the market and the company’s position.

Analysis Paralysis
While is very good to be prudent, overly cautious behavior eats up time and sets the example of risk aversion.  By the time you find the perfect answer, the problem has likely spiraled out of control or the opportunity may have been missed.

Being the “Know It All”
Never believe you have all the answers.  In a new role, you likely don’t know what you don’t know…  A “know it all” attitude may cause you to alienate your colleages and employees.  New leaders should spend more time listening than talking; observing rather than jumping to conclusions; inviting input.

Living in the Past
Don’t keep bringing up the past and dwelling on “what we did at my former company…” Even if you don’t disenfranchise people, you will certainly annoy them if you spend too much time on the past.  An occasional example of a concept that might work is fine, just use the examples sparingly.

Lack of the Truth
The higher you go in the organizaiton, the less likely other people are to give you honest feedback.  Insulation at the top of a company can prevent leaders from seeing a clear reflection in the mirror.  Constantly seek honest feedback.

Picking the Wrong Battles
Know which battle to invest in for an early “win.”  Folks are watching to see how you do.  This first problem solving quest will likely label you for quite some time.  Choose wisely.

Dissing Your Predecessor
Always be respectful and sensitive to your predecessor, their position and tenure.  Regardless of how you feel.  You do not earn your reputation by tarnshing someone elses.  You earn it by your own performance.

About Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.

“I built and sold a $40M company with Dr. Burcham as my mentor. This is the thing: if you EVER get the opportunity to learn from this man, from that moment forward, you’ll list him as one of the most influential people in your life, even if you live to be 90. And, you’ll know how lucky you were to have that opportunity and you’ll immediately say YES to any chance to be in his presence again—his wisdom is that impactful.”

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Former CEO, Letter Logic

“If you are looking for a trusted mentor and coach for yourself or your leadership team, I highly recommend Michael Burcham. He has worked with me as my executive coach for well over a decade now. Our conversations and his feedback have helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. He’s a trusted advisor that I can confidentially speak with about any issue—and I know I’ll get valued feedback. I highly recommend him.”

Ryan McGrath

CEO, Asset Living

“Dr. Burcham’s depth and breadth of experience makes even the most ADD entrepreneurial leader sit up and take notes! His coaching skills bring out the ‘best you’ possible. He selflessly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly—leaving you with an authentic and moving experience sure to spur action and professional growth!”

Julie Lenzer

Director, U.S. Department of Commerce


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