Tripwires. That’s what Robert Galford calls them. He says even with experience, feedback and coaching, you can make the same mistakes again.

Repeatable mistakes fall into three categories, the largest of which is identity, which is triggered by your own traits and idiosyncrasies. The second is clarity, and the third is your delivery.

These traits cause people to react in one or more of these five ways, says Galford, a teacher of executive education programs at the Center for Leading Organizations.

  1. Leadership_MistakesYour people don’t embrace your cause, your ideas or your demands. They might challenge you directly or indirectly, and they will do their best to keep your initiatives from taking off.
  2. They think they’ll let you win because they’re tired of ignoring or fighting your requests. They hope that you’ll abandon them.
  3. They postpone, forget, or ignore your requests or directives, thinking that, over time, you will too.
  4. They delegate your request to others or tie it up in excuses.
  5. They give up on understanding you and find a job elsewhere.

Galford says these tools can help.

  • Get a truth-teller to analyze your request or directive, not a friend or family member.
  • Know yourself. Consider characteristics that might get in your way. Try using the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) or the Killmann Instrument (TKI).
  • Speak up. Learn to say things like, “This isn’t easy for me, so I’m going to do X to make sure this gets done.
  • Build in consequences. Writing in, Gilford says one executive hired an extrovert to help her compensate for her wishy-washy communications.

The first few times you use any of these tools will be difficult but not as difficult as the consequences of hitting the tripwire again.