Eight Avoidable Leadership FAILS


1. Changing things from Ego. 

Why You Do it:  New leaders want to demonstrate their value and in an attempt to do so, often make radical changes as soon as they arrive. Don’t. No matter what.
The Problem: When you do this, you discredit the entire team and all the work they did before you arrived. It is a team culture and performance killer and I’ve seen it happen more times that I can count. Many leaders never recover from this one, simple fail.
How to Stop:  Wait. Watch. Listen. Get to know the team, the culture, the players. Don’t assume they don’t know what they’re doing. Be curious. Acknowledge their successes. Become a part of the team, rather than being the savior or the fix of the team.

2. Managing by Opinion.

Why You Do it:  It’s easy. Opinions are always available and we tend to believe our opinions are accurate and ‘the truth’. But they’re not. It also takes time and effort to build the processes that help better manage performance. People don’t want to work that hard.
The Problem:  I know. I know… BORING! But, here’s the deal. Performance matters. It’s why you all have jobs. Get this dialed in asap. Managing by opinion causes a host of issues including, disengagement, defensiveness (from you and team members), confusion, frustration, leading all the way up to discrimination and/or favoritism.
How to Stop:  Establish clear performance expectations and measures. Meet with your team members consistently (as a group and 1:1). Provide feedback. Redirect performance when necessary. Offer positive feedback when necessary and initiate performance management when necessary. This-is-why-you-are-here. To ensure the company is successful.

3. Being too Important.

Why You Do it: You’re overwhelmed. You haven’t set your priorities. You get confused and pulled in many directions. You aren’t comfortable giving feedback. You may not even like some of the people on your team. So… you avoid your team members (at least some of them).
The Problem: To many leaders are disengaged. They hide from and avoid their team members. They use meetings and their overwhelming amount of work as an excuse to not spend time with their team members. When you aren’t present with your team, you leave room for other unspoken leaders to have a voice that is louder than yours. This is not a good thing.
How to Stop:  Stop. Connect. Be with them. Have presence. YOU are the leader. Be one. Show up. Have a voice. The connection you have with your players is essential to the overall success of the team and the organization.

4. Rushing.

Why You Do it:  When you’re impatient you are short, which can appear to be dismissive and rude.  When you are impatient you are demonstrating emotional immaturity.
The Problem:  Impatience is a distraction for everyone and it changes YOU most. Impatience drives people away from you. They hide information or bad news from you, for fear of dealing with your impatient behavior. It forces you to make decisions quickly and not well thought out. People who work for impatient leaders often say they are intimidated and fearful of their leader.
How to Stop:  Don’t communicate when you feel impatient. Recognize that your impatience is not BECAUSE OF someone else, but rather it is TRIGGERED by your own thinking. Your impatience is yours to stop, it isn’t up to other people to go faster, be smarter, ‘get it’, etc. Impatience is a fail for you as a leader. Stop it.

5. Talking about Stupid. (Gossiping)

Why You Do it: You want to fit in. You want to connect. You are insecure. You think it makes you look good… who the heck knows?
The Problem: If you currently talk about people behind their back you can bet they are doing the same. And likely talking ALL about YOU.  This is a culture and organization killer. You destroy your credibility. If you gossip, you may also be a bully. It can be perceived as an attempt to coerce and bully others into doing what you want for fear of your retaliation.
How to Stop: Just stop it. You’re wasting time. You have to work to do.

6. Hiding Failures.

Why You Do it:  Fear.
The Problem:  This underlying fear for many managers causes many poisonous behaviors included controlling, hovering, undermining / skip-leveling and blaming.  Failure is part of winning. You have to know you and your team will have misses. It’s the way things work. How you deal with failure says a ton about you and your comfort with leadership.  Can you let other’s fail and help them find solutions? Do you need a scapegoat every time something goes wrong? Are you constantly trying to control outcomes?
How to Stop:  Encourage risk and provide accountability, not punishment if people fail. There’s a difference. Start small for yourself and others. Give small tasks and projects away, if you’ve been fearful to do so in the past. Allow failure without negative consequence. Create safe spaces for team members to try and fail.


7. Hovering.

Why You Do it:  See number #6. Fear.
The Problem:  It’s fine to set benchmarks and follow through to confirm they have been achieved. It’s awesome to set clear expectations and give your team members projects to work on and complete.  It’s another thing all together to tell people EXACTLY what to do and how to do their jobs, repeatedly. If you have hired professionals to do their work, hovering over them and telling them how to do their job minimizes them. If you do this, people will come to believe you don’t trust them and will become apathetic, disengaged and even toxic to the organization (and towards you).
How to Stop:  Ask more than tell. Make agreements and commitments, not task lists. Focus on the win, not the road to get there. Be a leader, not a manager.

8. Being Unkind. 

Why You Do it:  Because you forget there are people in those bodies and you only focus on the work. You’re annoyed, frustrated, irritated and / or exhausted. You think kindness is being nice… and nice is being weak. You think stern and tough and rough are strong. You are mistaken.
The Problem:  Leaders have to do tough stuff. They have to deliver unpopular messages. It’s part of the gig. It’s what you signed up for. It’s not someone else’s fault that you have to address poor performance or deal with a problem in your processes. You took the job, so it is your responsibility. Many people fear being too nice, so they become unkind. Nice implies people pleasing and weakness.
How to Stop:  Decide that kindness is a strength. Smile. Connect. Kindness allows for addressing concerns and still honoring the human you’re addressing. Kindness doesn’t chastise or insult or denigrate or shame. Kindness remembers to ‘see’ people, instead of just work. Kindness simply delivers (the tough) message. Team members may still experience the message as hard to hear, but know that you honor and respect them as humans. This skill is a leadership game-changer.



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