The Eight Most Common Psychological Mistakes of Business Leaders

Most businesses leaders focus on the measurable, material aspects of business, such as finances, marketing, IT, HR, sales, and strategy. Business leaders tend not to delve into what really underlies each of these business functions.  As such leaders are at risk of neglecting the vital role their own psychological development plays in how they run their businesses. And the consequences can be catastrophic. Below is my ‘pull no punches’ explanation of why so many businesses have problems. As a business coach I have seen these issues time and again with the business leaders I coach. Can you spot yourself below?


1. You underwent too much growth too quickly without the necessary planning and adaptation. You rushed it!

You open more stores or offices, sell more products, hire more staff, and expand to meet demand. This puts you in more debt, under more pressure to achieve, and less in control of what now looks like a business beast with a life of its own, unable to be tamed. Even though you make good money, you do not enjoy the work and its demands. And it’s not clear what you are trying to achieve.


2. You don’t listen to the right advice (including your own!). You are in denial and being too clever

When you think you’re right, you tend to disregard any evidence that doesn’t fit your viewpoint, and that’s dangerous. Being closed to feedback means being unwilling to learn. You harbour resentment towards others who question you, and you react badly when things don’t go your way. When your business is not going so well, or you are in conflict with your business partner, being right is you arguing with reality. When you fight reality its as useless as trying to get water out of a sinking boat with a teaspoon. Reality always wins in the end. When you learn to listen to what lies underneath the conflict, you can tame your proud, stubborn ego, and focus on the right solutions. 


3. You avoid problems, conflict and emotions, which makes you moody and sensitive and this worsens the conflict

Just because you ignore something doesn’t make the problem go away. It makes the situation worse. Your resentment, anger, disappointment and jealousy multiply over time, to the point where you are constantly on the defence and taking things too personally. Internally you may question and criticise yourself, and this neurotic loop of bad behaviour and negative thinking just feeds off itself, wasting your energy and gradually reducing your coping skills and self esteem over time. This avoidance habit makes it very difficult to run your business, as you waste precious time and energy being dishonest with yourself and others, and focusing on keeping up appearances and pretending that everything is fine.


4. You protect others to please them, to your own detriment 

This may include you taking on all the risk in the business, because you are trying to please your business partner(s). So it’s your house on the line when things go bad, not theirs. Or you give staff generous wages and avoid confrontation about their lack of performance. Everyone enjoys their work, they have a lot of fun, and time off, they become your mates, but they are also one reason why the business goes downhill. If these staff are family members then double the difficulty in confronting and resolving this problem. If you blame them for the business downturn the situation gets worse.  And because of this work culture, you take on too much, you experience extreme stress, and you are the one they are all angry with when you tell them they have lost their jobs because the business needs to close down.


5. You engage in self-sabotaging lifestyle habits and lack balance

To cope with all of the above, some business leaders use vices such as drinking too much, smoking, drugs and medications in order to put all those extra hours into the business.  Your diet is awful, you exercise inconsistently, or when you do its way too intense and sado-masochistic, and you don’t spend enough time with friends or family, or on hobbies, interests, and truly relaxing and having fun. Not involving your spouse enough in the business, not sharing important information and decisions and that also impacts on them, significantly contributes to this lack of balance.


6. You are too controlling and/or obsessive, and this impacts negatively on others

You don’t delegate enough, which makes you too busy and inefficient. You are not making the most of the talents of those around you. The more fear you hold, the less you will trust people, and as a result you will be seen as too controlling, which restricts your opportunities. Unfortunately controlling people are often unaware of this habit, which is focussed on minimizing risk and worrying about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on all the possibilities of where to create better partnerships and make more money. 


7. You make too many bad, reactive decisions that lack foresight and planning

Humans are either motivated by inspiration or desperation (fear), and desperation is far more popular. It causes you to rush decisions and actions, but you don’t realise you are doing it at the time. You think you are doing the right thing, using your gut feelings (also called intuition) to make quick decisions. You are confident and brash. But your fragile ego has fooled you into thinking you can pull it off without needing to research or plan what you are doing, which is what everyone else needs to do to be successful. And just because it’s a gut feeling  doesn’t mean its right or it will work – that’s just your ego again, backing itself blindly.


Trying to prove yourself can give you lots of drive, but it also adds pressure to the situation.   It can force you to rush things, take unnecessary risks, and make the wrong decisions.  When you worry too much about what others think, and seek their approval, they then have power over you and your actions, which is not ideal. And these people may not have your best interests at heart. That’s dangerous.


8. You are reluctant to do anything about the above

Each of these factors relates to each other, because its your mind that generates these thoughts and behaviours. It is vitally important for business owners to consider how working on themselves helps the business.  Your mind is your most important asset. Healthcare professionals receive supervision. Finance people get mentored. What professional development do you receive?


You can change your habits. You just need the right guidance and help. Coaching Psychology can help you remove your self sabotage and replace it with psychological skills that  improve the way you do business. The Thrive Learning Centre courses helps you learn the psychological skills that drive greater success and satisfaction at work. With psychology and business qualifications, I have over twenty five years experience helping business owners with their personal and professional lives. I provide a new perspective to show you a better way to run your business and your life, and will guide you to becoming happier and more successful in all areas of your life. 


For more information about the Thrive courses, please view my website www.petercharleston.com/courses to see the range of course options available or email me at info@petercharleston.com for more information.   

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