It was a Monday morning, and the alarm went off, signaling the start of yet another workweek. I hit snooze for the third time, dreading the thought of heading into the office. As I lay in bed, I couldn’t help but reflect on why I felt so frustrated with my job. Sure, the company was doing well, and my team was filled with talented individuals. But something was off. I realized that the root of my frustration lay in the inconsistent goals set by our leadership team. One week, we’d be laser-focused on one priority, and the next, we’d pivot to something completely different. It was a dizzying experience that left me feeling disoriented and stressed.

This realization led me to do some research. Why do employees quit their jobs? The reasons are complex and deep-rooted, but I found that many times, it comes down to the leadership. I came across a data scientist’s research, which identified eight common leadership mistakes that contribute to employees quitting. Through working with predictive models across various industries, these eight mistakes emerged as consistent factors behind employees’ decisions to leave their jobs.

As I dug deeper into the research, I recognized that the inconsistency I had experienced was just one of these eight deadly sins of leadership. I started to see how these mistakes created a work environment that was far from ideal. Employees, including myself, were left feeling disengaged, unfulfilled, and in some cases, burnt out. We were all just waiting for the right opportunity to make our escape.

I wondered, how many other people out there were in the same boat? How many talented, hardworking individuals were ready to throw in the towel because of poor leadership? I knew I couldn’t be the only one. That’s when I decided to dive deeper into these eight leadership mistakes and explore how leaders can avoid them. This way, we can create work environments where employees not only stay but also thrive.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the eight leadership mistakes that can drive your employees to quit. We’ll discuss the negative consequences of each mistake and provide solutions for avoiding them. By understanding these mistakes and implementing strategies to counter them, you can create a more positive work environment and foster employee loyalty. So let’s dive in and learn how to avoid committing these deadly sins of leadership.

Mistake #1: Inconsistent goals or expectations

I’ve got a story for you. Picture this: you’re working on a project, you’ve got a deadline coming up, and you’ve been busting your ass to get everything done. Then, out of nowhere, your boss waltzes in and tells you to shift your focus to a completely different priority. You’re left scratching your head, wondering what the hell just happened. Sound familiar?

Inconsistent goals or expectations can turn your workplace into a stress-induced nightmare. When employees don’t know what’s expected of them or which goals they should be focusing on, they’re left feeling lost, overwhelmed, and disengaged. In fact, this lack of clarity can have a significant impact on their performance and job satisfaction.

Picture yourself working in a team where the rules keep changing. It’s like trying to score a goal in a soccer match, but every five minutes, someone moves the goalposts. Frustrating, right? Well, that’s what it’s like working in an environment with inconsistent goals or expectations. You’re constantly trying to adapt to the changes, which can lead to a whole lot of unnecessary stress and confusion.

So how do you fix this mess? The solution is simple: consistency and clarity in expectations.

First, leaders need to be crystal clear about the company’s objectives and priorities. When employees understand the bigger picture, they can better align their individual goals with the overall vision. It’s crucial to communicate these objectives effectively and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Next, establish a clear set of expectations for each role. This means providing employees with detailed job descriptions, setting performance expectations, and outlining the specific tasks they’re responsible for. And I’m not talking about some vague, wishy-washy list of duties. I mean a clear, concise breakdown of what they need to do and how their success will be measured.

But hey, we’re all human, right? Sometimes priorities change, and that’s okay. The key is to communicate these changes effectively and ensure that everyone understands the new focus. If you have to pivot, make sure it’s for a good reason and that your team is on board with the shift.

One way to keep expectations consistent is to set regular check-ins with your team. This can help you address any concerns, clarify expectations, and ensure that everyone is aligned with the company’s goals. And remember, communication is a two-way street. Encourage your team to speak up if they feel unclear about their role or the expectations you’ve set for them.

The bottom line is that people want to feel secure in their jobs. They want to know what’s expected of them and have a clear sense of direction. Inconsistent goals and expectations can throw a wrench in the works, leading to disengagement, burnout, and ultimately, employees quitting.

Mistake #2: Too many process constraints

Alright, let’s talk about another workplace headache: process constraints. You know, all those rules, procedures, and red tape that make you feel like you’re stuck in a straightjacket? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

Too many process constraints can seriously mess with your team’s performance. When employees are bogged down with unnecessary rules and regulations, it’s like trying to run a marathon with a ball and chain attached to their ankles. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty.

Think back to a time when you were working on a project, and you had to jump through hoop after hoop just to get the simplest thing done. You probably felt frustrated, right? Well, that’s how your team feels when they’re drowning in process constraints.

The solution to this problem is pretty straightforward: open communication and improvement. But how do you do that, you ask? Let me break it down for you.

First, you’ve got to create a culture of open communication within your team. Encourage your employees to voice their concerns and share their ideas for improving processes. Trust me, they’ll have a lot to say – after all, they’re the ones on the front lines, dealing with these constraints every day.

Next, don’t just listen to your team’s concerns – act on them. Work with your employees to identify areas for improvement and streamline processes where possible. Remember, the goal here is to make their lives easier, not harder.

But be careful not to swing too far in the other direction. You don’t want to eliminate all processes and create total chaos. Instead, focus on striking a balance between structure and flexibility. Your team needs some level of guidance and direction, but they also need room to breathe and be creative.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “This all sounds great, but how do I actually implement this in my workplace?” Well, my friend, it’s time for some good old-fashioned trial and error. Start by reviewing your existing processes and identifying areas where you can simplify or eliminate constraints. Then, get your team involved in the decision-making process and encourage them to share their ideas for improvement.

But here’s the key: don’t be afraid to make changes. If something isn’t working, be willing to adjust your approach and try something new. Remember, you’re not trying to create a perfect system – you’re trying to create a more efficient, productive, and enjoyable work environment for your team.

Ultimately, reducing process constraints is about empowering your employees and giving them the tools they need to succeed. When you remove unnecessary roadblocks and focus on improvement, you’ll not only see a boost in your team’s performance, but you’ll also create a happier, more engaged workforce.

Mistake #3: Wasting employees’ time

Time, they say, is money. But in the workplace, it’s more than that: it’s a precious, limited resource. And let me tell you, nothing grinds my gears more than having my time wasted. I bet your employees feel the same way.

You see, wasting employees’ time doesn’t just hurt productivity – it leads to disengagement, too. When your team feels like they’re stuck in a hamster wheel, spinning their wheels and getting nowhere, morale takes a nosedive. And before you know it, you’ve got a disengaged workforce on your hands.

So, what’s the solution? Simple: prioritize and itemize tasks. Here’s how to get started.

First, sit down with your team and figure out what tasks are truly important. I’m talking about the tasks that make a real impact on your business – not the busywork that just keeps everyone looking busy. Once you’ve identified these high-priority tasks, it’s time to delegate.

Make sure each team member knows exactly what’s expected of them and when their tasks are due. This way, they can focus on what really matters and stop wasting time on tasks that don’t move the needle.

But don’t stop there. Keep an eye out for other time-wasters in the workplace, like excessive meetings or redundant processes. Let me tell you, nothing kills productivity faster than a meeting that could’ve been an email.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But we need meetings to communicate and collaborate!” And you’re right – meetings can be a valuable tool for teamwork. But only when they’re used effectively.

So, here’s my advice: before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if it’s truly necessary. Can the issue be resolved with a quick email or chat? If not, then go ahead and schedule that meeting – but keep it focused and efficient.

Speaking of efficiency, let’s talk about multitasking. I know it feels like you’re being super productive when you’re juggling a million things at once, but the truth is, you’re just wasting time. Multitasking is a productivity killer, plain and simple.

Instead, encourage your team to focus on one task at a time. This way, they can give their full attention to the task at hand and knock it out of the park. Trust me, they’ll get more done in less time.

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your team regularly to make sure they’re on track and managing their time effectively. Offer support, guidance, and resources to help them stay organized and focused. Remember, your role as a leader is to empower your team, not to micromanage their every move.

In conclusion, it’s time to stop wasting your employees’ time and start respecting it. By prioritizing tasks, eliminating unnecessary meetings, and encouraging focus, you’ll not only boost productivity, but you’ll also create a more engaged, motivated workforce.

Mistake #4: Employees in the wrong role

Picture this: you’re working your butt off day in and day out, but something just doesn’t feel right. It’s like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. You’re frustrated, your boss is frustrated, and your team is frustrated. So, what’s the problem? Well, chances are, you’re in the wrong role.

Yeah, you heard me right. One of the biggest reasons employees throw in the towel is because they’re stuck in a role that just doesn’t suit them. And let’s be real, nobody wants to spend their days feeling like they’re constantly swimming upstream.

So, leaders, it’s time to face the music and recognize that sometimes, role mismatch is the culprit behind a struggling employee. But don’t worry, there’s a solution: transparency and role adjustment.

First things first, start by creating a transparent environment where your team feels comfortable discussing their roles and responsibilities. Encourage them to be honest about their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. And for heaven’s sake, listen to them! There’s nothing worse than pouring your heart out only to have your boss brush it off like it’s no big deal.

Once you’ve got a clear understanding of where your team members truly shine, it’s time to make some adjustments. Look for opportunities to align their responsibilities with their strengths and passions. This might mean tweaking their current role, or it might mean a full-blown job swap. Whatever the case, the key is to be flexible and open-minded.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But we can’t just let everyone pick and choose their jobs willy-nilly!” And I get it. But here’s the thing: when your employees are in roles that play to their strengths, they’re more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. And that, my friend, is a win-win for everyone involved.

But what if you’ve tried adjusting roles and it’s still not working? Well, sometimes, it’s time to part ways. It’s tough, I know. But if an employee is truly unhappy in their role, it’s better for both them and the company to find a better fit elsewhere. Just make sure you handle the situation with grace and empathy – nobody likes a cold-hearted boss.

So, leaders, let’s ditch the “one size fits all” mentality and embrace the idea that different employees thrive in different roles. By fostering transparency and being open to role adjustments, you’ll not only boost morale but also create a more effective, cohesive team.

And for all you employees out there feeling stuck in the wrong role, don’t be afraid to speak up! You never know, your boss might just surprise you and help you find your true calling.

Mistake #5: Boring or overly easy tasks

Let’s get real for a second: life is too short for boring, mind-numbing work. You know the type – the tasks that are so painfully easy they make you question your own existence. Yeah, those. Turns out, they’re not just annoying; they’re actually a major reason employees quit their jobs.

Think about it. When you’re stuck doing the same dull tasks day in and day out, you start to feel like a glorified robot. Your brain starts to turn to mush, and before you know it, you’re daydreaming about literally anything else. It’s a one-way ticket to burnout city, folks.

But fear not, leaders! There’s a solution to this problem, and it’s all about challenging work for growth. That’s right – it’s time to ditch the mundane tasks and give your team something to sink their teeth into.

First, take a good, hard look at the tasks you’re assigning to your team. Are they too easy? Repetitive? Soul-crushing? If the answer is yes, it’s time for a change. Start by identifying the skills and talents your team members possess and then find ways to put those skills to good use.

For example, if you’ve got a team member who’s a whiz at graphic design, don’t waste their talents on data entry. Instead, give them a project that allows them to flex their creative muscles. Trust me, they’ll be much happier and more engaged as a result.

Another way to challenge your team is to set stretch goals. These are targets that push them beyond their comfort zones, forcing them to learn and grow. It’s all about striking the right balance between “easy peasy” and “impossible.” You want your team to feel challenged, but not overwhelmed.

And here’s the thing: when your team is consistently challenged, they’ll not only be more engaged but also more likely to stick around. After all, nobody wants to jump ship from a job that keeps them on their toes and helps them grow, right?

But let’s address the elephant in the room: some tasks are just plain boring, no matter how you slice it. In these cases, it’s all about finding ways to make the work more interesting. Maybe it’s turning data entry into a friendly competition or finding creative ways to present information. The point is, there are always ways to make even the most mundane tasks more engaging.

So, leaders, let’s make a pact to banish boring tasks from our workplaces. By challenging our team members and giving them opportunities for growth, we’ll not only keep them from quitting but also create a more productive, energized work environment.

And to all the employees out there drowning in boring tasks, don’t be afraid to speak up! Your boss might not even realize they’re putting you to sleep. With a little communication and creativity, you just might find yourself enjoying your work a whole lot more.

Mistake #6: Failing to create a psychologically safe culture

Picture this: you’re in a team meeting, and you’ve got a brilliant idea that could revolutionize the way you work. But as you look around the room, you realize that nobody else is speaking up. Your heart starts pounding, your palms get sweaty, and you decide to keep your mouth shut. After all, who wants to be the one to rock the boat, right?

Well, my friends, this is what we call a lack of psychological safety. And let me tell you, it’s a doozy of a problem. When employees don’t feel safe sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, you’re not just stifling creativity – you’re also breeding a culture of fear and low engagement. And trust me, that’s not a recipe for success.

So, how do you create a psychologically safe culture? It’s all about openness to new ideas and viewpoints. Yep, that means it’s time to put on your listening ears and get ready to embrace the fact that you don’t have all the answers. Crazy, I know.

First things first, let’s talk about the importance of fostering a culture of open communication. As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind – even if it means challenging the status quo. This can be as simple as encouraging employees to share their thoughts in meetings or setting up an anonymous suggestion box.

But it’s not just about talking the talk – you’ve also got to walk the walk. That means actively seeking out diverse perspectives and being willing to change course when necessary. Remember, nobody’s perfect – and that includes you, boss.

Another way to create a psychologically safe culture is by acknowledging and addressing failure. Look, we all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. But when leaders refuse to admit their own shortcomings, they create a culture where employees are afraid to take risks for fear of being blamed or punished.

So, own up to your mistakes and use them as an opportunity for growth. When employees see that you’re willing to learn from your failures, they’ll be more likely to take risks and innovate – which is exactly what you want.

Finally, let’s talk about trust. Trust is the foundation of any successful team, and it’s crucial for creating a psychologically safe culture. As a leader, you’ve got to demonstrate that you trust your employees to do their jobs and make decisions – even if it means giving up a little control.

Show your team that you trust them by delegating tasks, giving them autonomy, and respecting their expertise. And when they make mistakes (because they will), resist the urge to micromanage or blame. Instead, help them learn from the experience and move forward together.

In a nutshell, creating a psychologically safe culture is all about being open to new ideas, embracing failure, and building trust. When employees feel supported and safe, they’ll be more engaged, more creative, and less likely to quit.

Mistake #7: Overly safe work environment

Now, let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a company where everything was sunshine and rainbows. Nobody ever messed up, and there was never any conflict. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, not so fast. You see, in this so-called “perfect” workplace, nothing truly groundbreaking ever happened. Employees became complacent, and creativity went the way of the dodo.

That, my friends, is the dark side of an overly safe work environment. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to keep things smooth and steady, but when you prioritize safety over innovation, you risk losing sight of what’s truly important.

So, how can you avoid creating a work environment that’s too safe? It’s all about striking the right balance. You want your team to feel secure, but you also need to foster a culture of growth, learning, and, yes, even a little bit of risk-taking. Let’s dive into some solutions.

First up: regular feedback. When employees know where they stand, they’re more likely to feel comfortable pushing boundaries and trying new things. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss goals, progress, and areas for improvement. And hey, don’t forget to offer some praise for a job well done! We all like to feel appreciated, after all.

Next, remind your team of their contributions. It’s easy for employees to lose sight of the big picture when they’re caught up in the day-to-day grind. Make a habit of sharing company updates and celebrating wins – both big and small. When your team feels connected to the organization’s mission, they’ll be more motivated to go the extra mile.

Now, let’s talk about embracing change. In an overly safe work environment, employees may be resistant to change, fearing the unknown. But change is a natural part of growth, and as a leader, it’s your job to help your team navigate it with confidence. Encourage open dialogue about upcoming shifts, address concerns, and highlight the benefits of adapting to new circumstances.

And finally, don’t forget to lead by example. If you want your team to take risks and push themselves, you need to show them that you’re willing to do the same. Share your own experiences with failure and growth, and demonstrate that you’re open to learning and evolving.

In conclusion, while an overly safe work environment might seem appealing on the surface, it can ultimately hinder creativity, innovation, and progress. By providing regular feedback, reminding employees of their contributions, embracing change, and leading by example, you can strike the right balance between safety and growth – and help your team reach new heights.

Mistake #8: Leading with bias

Ah, bias. It’s one of those sneaky little buggers that we all have, whether we admit it or not. We might think we’re being objective and fair, but our brains have a funny way of playing tricks on us, clouding our judgment with all sorts of preconceived notions and stereotypes. And when it comes to leadership, leading with bias can be a one-way ticket to a dysfunctional team and a whole lot of “I quit” letters.

So, what’s the big deal about leading with bias? Well, for starters, it undermines trust. If your employees think you’re playing favorites, they’re less likely to believe in your decisions or follow your guidance. And if they feel like they’re not getting a fair shake, they might just decide to take their talents elsewhere. Ouch.

But fear not, fellow leaders! There’s hope for us yet. The solution to leading with bias lies in self-awareness and regular feedback. Let’s break it down.

First up: self-awareness. This means taking a good, hard look at yourself and recognizing where your biases lie. Be honest with yourself. Do you tend to favor certain types of people, ideas, or ways of working? Are there specific situations where you might be letting bias cloud your judgment? Acknowledging your biases is the first step toward overcoming them.

Next, make a conscious effort to challenge your assumptions. When you catch yourself making a snap judgment or leaning on stereotypes, take a step back and ask yourself: “Is this really true, or is it just my bias talking?” By questioning your thought patterns, you’ll start to rewire your brain and make more objective decisions.

Now, let’s talk about feedback. As a leader, it’s essential to be open to feedback – both from yourself and from others. Regularly check in with your team and encourage them to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s a crucial step in identifying and addressing any biases that might be affecting your leadership.

And remember, it’s not just about receiving feedback – it’s about acting on it, too. If your team points out instances where they feel bias has played a role, listen, learn, and adjust your approach. Be willing to make changes and demonstrate your commitment to fairness and objectivity.

Finally, don’t forget to lead by example. Show your team that you’re committed to recognizing and overcoming your biases by being open, transparent, and willing to grow. This will create a positive ripple effect throughout your organization, fostering a culture of fairness, trust, and inclusivity.

In conclusion, leading with bias can be a major roadblock to building a strong, cohesive team. By practicing self-awareness, challenging your assumptions, and embracing regular feedback, you can overcome your biases and become the fair, objective leader your team deserves.


Well, folks, we’ve made it to the end of our wild ride through the 8 deadly sins of leadership. It’s been a rollercoaster, for sure, but I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep your team from quitting. Remember, avoiding these leadership pitfalls is crucial if you want a thriving, successful work environment.

Now, let’s quickly recap the importance of steering clear of these leadership no-nos. For starters, avoiding these mistakes leads to improved employee performance. When your team feels supported, challenged, and valued, they’re more likely to go above and beyond, which translates to better results for your business. It’s a win-win!

Next up, we’ve got cohesiveness and loyalty. When you sidestep these leadership traps, you foster a strong sense of camaraderie among your team members. They’ll be more likely to stick together, collaborate, and trust one another, creating a tight-knit group that’s ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, avoiding these leadership sins helps create a positive work environment where employees can truly thrive. When your team feels like they’re in a supportive, fair, and engaging workplace, they’re more likely to stick around for the long haul. And that, my friends, is how you keep your team from quitting.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to take action! Start by assessing your own leadership style and identifying any areas where you might be falling into these deadly traps. Then, implement the solutions we’ve discussed to turn things around and build a better, stronger team.

Don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open and be willing to accept feedback from your team. Nobody’s perfect, and we all have room to grow. So, embrace the opportunity to learn, adapt, and become the best leader you can be.

In the end, the key to successful leadership is striking the right balance. You’ve got to be tough but fair, supportive but challenging, and always open to new ideas and perspectives. It’s not an easy task, but with some dedication and self-awareness, you can make it happen.

So, go forth, fellow leaders! Embrace the lessons we’ve learned together, and let’s build work environments where our teams can flourish and thrive. Remember, the success of your team – and your business – depends on it. Now get out there and make some magic happen!

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.