The TEN Worst Leadership Behaviors

worst_behaviorAll leaders want their companies to perform flawlessly, but flawless performance is a rare occurrence. All leaders want their employees to believe in and support their company’s vision, but employees can find it hard to keep believing. All leaders want employees to be loyal and respectful, but loyalty and respect are something leaders earn rather than an expectation that can be controlled. All leaders want profitability and positive cash flow, but profitability and cash flow is an outcome of the leader’s financial discipline.

What happens on a leader’s watch is the leader’s responsibility. When things don’t go right, when mistakes happen, goals are missed, company cultures become contaminated and toxic, profits turn to loss, and debt increases … all these are connected to the leader’s thinking and behavior.

Here are ten of the worst leadership behaviors that, when combined, keep otherwise extraordinary companies stuck in extremely ordinary:

  1. Not listening and being present: Not listening and being present in the moment when others need you to hear them is disrespectful. No one likes to be discounted or treated as irrelevant or disposable. Every text message doesn’t need to be read immediately. If you can stop and fix yourself a cup of coffee, you can stop and give an employee a few moments of your undivided attention. Leadership is about engaging with people … not being disconnected and unapproachable.
  2. Showing up late: When a new coaching client shows up late for his or her first few coaching calls, it’s almost always a reflection of that leader’s pattern of showing up late. Making others wait is disrespectful and a time waster. A leader that is always on time sets the company’s tone, behavior and expectation about the value of being on time. If you have a pattern of always running late, everyone in your company knows it. No matter how great a leader you think you are, showing up late makes you less than great.
  3. Breaking promises: In the moment, promises can be made with the best intentions. When you fail to deliver on even the simplest of promises, you are breaking trust. That little promise to “take care of something” may mean the world to an employee. When you give your word to do something … it is a contract. It is an expectation that you gave. Deliver your promises on time. No compromise.
  4. Over committing: Every self-professed multi-tasker I’ve ever met has a track record of dropping balls off their overflowing plates. Projects are rushed. People associated with those projects are stressed and frustrated. Deadlines are either mad dashes or missed. Quality is compromised. Over committed multi-tasker leaders may be proud of their “look how much I have going on” tornado that surrounds them … but those they lead find it frustrating to deal with and nothing about it to admire.
  5. Making it all about the numbers: I am not a number. My name is Neil. I love fighting for a worthy cause alongside my fellow crusaders. I believe in the human spirit and capturing its passion can achieve truly extraordinary things. I believe in my capabilities and myself … but it inspires me beyond words when others believe in me too. I am not a number. I don’t fight and give my best for a number. The number is just a score. Passion, commitment, tenacity, courage, integrity … blood and sweat … the desire to win … creates great numbers. Numbers are one dimensional … the people you lead are not. Make it all about the numbers and you’re anything but a leader.
  6. Playing favorites: Every business has its key players. But when key players become favorites bestowed with special privileges, it divides the culture of the team into the haves and the have-nots. It gives the favorites a perpetual “get out of jail card” while everyone else is held to the rules and standards. Favorites are insiders and everyone else is an outsider. It’s hard to give your best and take a leader seriously when you’re treated like a second-class citizen of lesser privilege.
  7. Ignoring levels of authority: It’s a natural tendency for entrepreneurial leaders to get involved in damn near everything. That’s called meddling and micro-managing. If you give individuals the authority and accountability for a department, task or project … give them clearly defined expectations and the support and resources they need — get out of their way and allow them to run with it. Be the orchestra leader and keep your hands off other people’s instruments.
  8. Entitlement: You are the leader … not the king of your domain. You don’t flaunt your authority or possessions at the expense of others. You don’t show up late, avoid tasks or break rules you expect others to follow — you model the thinking and behavior you want in your culture. You don’t treat the company bank account as your personal treasure chest. You earn the right to lead a company and its people every day through your actions, decisions and behaviors.
  9. Procrastinating: No-Compromise Leadership means, “If it needs to be done, get it done.” Push that project across the finish line on time. Engage issues before they become a crisis. Have that fierce conversation that’s been waiting to happen. Make that tough decision because your company will remain stuck until you do. Procrastinating is a choice to avoid. Just get it done. Laziness is something else entirely. If you’re lazy — get out of leadership because you never belonged.
  10. Avoiding financial disciplines: For many leaders, there is something about numbers and financial disciplines that they equate to bad tasting medicine. In business, bad tasting medicine is dealing with tight cash flow, mounting losses and increasing debt. At Strategies, we are borderline fanatical about cash-flow planning and management because it is a non-negotiable for business success. Profit doesn’t happen by accident … profit is planned. Profit is an outcome. If you don’t have a 12-month Cash-Flow Plan to project revenues and expenses … you are leaving cash and profit up to the business gods. You are playing a dangerous and costly game with your livelihood and everyone else’s livelihood in your company.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click below to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.


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