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My last Business tip listed 10 bad leadership habits, based on a review of 300 high level leaders by eminent psychologist and executive coach, Dr Lou Stern. Based on reader and listener feedback, this generated quite a bit of laughter and self-reflection.
Before I share Dr Stern’s other 10 bad habits, a reminder.
The definition of a habit is; An involuntary behaviour, developed through repetition, which can be changed through conscious repeated effort. So don’t just shrug these off as “me just being me”. They can be modified if you are committed to being a more effective leader. And in business, it’s all about good leadership.
So here are the next 10 habits… all habits that can be changed with insight, determination and repetition of the opposite;
- Being perfectionistic. This often comes from not feeling you can trust others. It can lead to too many meetings with a focus on details and a loss of strategic focus. If this is a habit of yours, talk about your concerns and what you need in order to let go of the details. Then go cold turkey and give it a go!
- Being close minded. Are you argumentative and stubborn when people disagree with you? Perhaps you believe it is a sign of weakness to change your mind. Here’s a thought…one of the highest forms of courage is to be able to listen with an open mind to views different to yours, and shift your position in the face of new evidence.
- Over-talking and under-listening. Do you love the sound of your own voice and enjoy being the centre of attention? Taken to extremes this is called narcissism and it is a selfish habit because it means everything comes back to being about you rather than the people you lead. It can also lead to people ridiculing you behind your back.
- Being non-assertive. Non-assertive people hold back from saying what needs to be said. Perhaps they lack self-confidence. If this is your habit, find your voice and use it. Do it for the good of the business, because those who habitually speak the loudest are often like marbles rattling around in an empty can.
- Inappropriate use of humour. This often involves guys making sexual remarks. If you know someone that does this, be specific with your feedback and what you expect from them, as they often are not aware of how they are coming across.
- Overstating or exaggerating. When we are passionate, or desperate, we can tend to make sweeping generalisations or reach simplistic, black and white conclusions. Do you confuse beliefs with facts? Do you ignore the evidence if it doesn’t fit your opinions?
- Thinking aloud. This is a common habit amongst extraverts because they like to form their views by speaking them out loud. But it can be confusing, annoying and time wasting for others, as I have been told! If this is also your habit, try writing down your thoughts before speaking them.
- Micromanaging or abdicating responsibility. These extremes can come from a reluctance to give away power or just plain old laziness. If you have either of these habits, practice delegating with clear instructions on the standards you expect, and when and how you want others to get back to you. Your focus then just needs to be on ensuring they stick to this agreement.
- Trying to please others. Are you always trying to keep up with the latest fad? Do you like to name drop? This is a dangerous habit for leaders because it can create mediocrity by just following trends instead of building a strategy around what the organisation actually needs. In meetings it can lead to poor decisions through what psychologists call “groupthink”. If this is a habit, ask yourself “What would I do if I wasn’t trying to please anyone?”
- Being political or over-ambitious to win at all costs. This can lead to manipulative behaviour by just saying what others want to hear, regardless of the truth, and treating people as objects to serve your Machiavellian objectives. It is an ugly habit which inevitably leads to corruption and an unhealthy culture.
The solution to overcoming this last bad leadership habit, and many of the others, is to focus our attention on what is right for our business or organisation, rather than the gratification of our egos.
It certainly helps to have a culture where frank, open discussion is encouraged and people genuinely listen to each other.
With thanks to