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The 3 Biggest Leadership Mistakes.



Being a leader is a tough job. Some seem naturally great at it and foster an ethos of progress and support, others seem to have the exact opposite effect. Leadership weakness can ruin any chance you have of building a strong team.

In my opinion, the 3 points highlighted in this post are the biggest mistakes leaders can make. If you find yourself making these mistakes be honest with yourself and work to change them.

Leadership Weakness 1. Not leading by example.

It seems obvious but we’ve all had leaders who don’t do this. If you are going to ask a member of your team to do something, make damn sure you would be willing to do it. As a middle leader myself, I may have a science teacher in a non-science room who needs to do a practical experiment and another who is in a lab who doesn’t need the equipment so I’d need to ask them to swap, this can cause friction from time to time.

If any teacher asks me if I will swap room with them so they can do a specific lesson I will always, without fail say yes. Most of the time without even checking to see what I have planned for the lesson in question. Why? If I always swap, I am leading by example.

Timekeeping as a teacher is essential. If a leader expects his team to be on time for all lessons and to be present at all required meetings, they must make sure they are there on time too. There’s no way you can discipline staff for tardiness if you have a tendency to be late or forget meetings.

Leadership Weakness 2. Don’t promise and not deliver.

This could come under the not leading by example mistake but committing this mistake is so important. It can very quickly lead to a loss of respect and losing your team. I have personally worked for leaders who have promised they would do something for me or the department and then not fulfilled their promises. This has the effect of your team not trusting you. If you lose their trust, you lose the cohesion of the team.

It’s ok to say no, it’s ok to delegate jobs back out, it’s actually a really smart move to listen to someone’s request and then empower them to go ahead and do it. After all, A good leader builds a strong team by allowing them to develop. There are only 24 hours in a day, you can’t do everything but everything needs doing. If you do give a team member the responsibility of a task NEVER blame them if they do it wrong or different to how you would do it. A great leader recognises that if something they have instigated goes wrong, THEY are the one who probably didn’t explain it properly in the first place.

Leadership Weakness 3. Failure to manage strong characters.

In a recent position, the leader of our department flat-out had no backbone. It was a small team that had within its ranks a very strong character who thought very highly of himself. In team meetings, the strong character who (incorrectly) always thought his idea was the best completely over talked the team leader. The leader never spoke to the strong personality about this, in fact, he often changed his plans in front of the rest of the department to suit the other teacher.

The effect this had on the rest of the department was devastating. Staff turnover was very high. Good teachers came and went and ultimately the students suffered. Our responsibility as leaders is to our team as a whole and, more importantly, to the students.


These three ideas are really the bread and butter of leadership. It won’t matter what else you do if you don’t get these right. Nail them and you are well on the way to having a very effective team.

If you have anything to add please comment below. Please share this post on your social media if you know anyone who would benefit from it.

You may also benefit from other posts on my blog.

Overcoming Procrastination

Student Engagement

Autism in the classroom

Mistakes new teachers make

Thanks for your time,


Paul Stevens-Fulbrook
Paul Stevens-Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.