The Top 25 Temptations of Leadership
- Using position to intimidate or manipulate.
- Believing talent, experience, or skills compensate for preparation.
- Choosing the easy way for you rather than the best way for them.
- Overlooking the destructive behaviors of high performers.
- Withholding benefits or resources as punishment.
- Avoiding tough issues.
- Staying the same.
- Pretending you know when you don’t.
- Hiring yourself. Surrounding yourself with people who have your strengths.
- Playing favorites.
- Waiting for the perfect solution rather than choosing the best option.
- Consensus decision-making.
- Considering power a perk rather than a platform for service.
- Placing short-term wins before long-term success. “Let’s just get this done, we’ll fix the problems or big issues later.”
- Ignoring your inner voice when it says something isn’t right.
- Allowing people to think you agree when you don’t.
- Telling people what they want to hear.
- Forgetting it’s always about the people.
- Focusing on problems and weaknesses to the detriment of opportunities and strengths.
- Giving answers before exploring options.
- Little white lies.
Cave dwelling (seclusion) is one of my temptations. I love people but I also love privacy, books, and being alone.
What are the most tempting temptations leaders face?
What temptations do you feel as a leader?
Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe today. It’s free. It’s private. It’s always practical and brief.
Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe. Your email address is always kept private. Note: if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.
I would add one more, 26th maybe?
Temptation to not listen.
Leaders always have an opinion(which is good), but too often they want their view to be accepted by others without genuinely listening to others.
Good leaders first Listen and Listen intently
I think the ability to decide quickly makes listening harder. Not only that, once we decide, we have to be convinced we are wrong before we listen well. Now that’s a losing situation.
Pretty comprehensive. I like Sachin’s addition. If I were to add another, it would be reluctance to disagree with higher-ups. Leaders owe their bosses their best judgment as much as they owe loyalty. That’s what I call the Nazi defense – “I don’t like it but I’m just following orders.”
For me, it’s always tempting to move ahead before I have buy-in. I hate waiting for others to process, evaluate and eventually agree.
Perhaps one of the hardest things leaders and managers do is own a decision they disagreed with. Yet, I think it’s central to effective influence.
Regarding your personal temptation … DANG “those” people can be so S L O W! 😉
Greg is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He blogs at: http://hippocketleader.blogspot.com/
You’re right. The Army way is, you can object as loudly as you want until the commander makes a decision, then you carry it out like it’s your own. It’s those who won’t voice objections when they might still influence a decision that bother me.
But you’re right, you have to be able to own that decision in the end. If you can’t you’d better look for an organization that’s better aligned with your values.
Thanks for showing me the clarification.
Greg that’s an excellent addition. Disagreeing with your boss point blank is very difficult.
imho even counter productive.
Dale Carnegie mentioned in the famous book that “criticism does not work on anyone”……least of all your boss.
Does that mean one becomes a “nazi” as you put it.
Nopes, make the information visible through other means is the solution.
Dan I am pasting a link to similar lines to what I just wrote in these comments which I think your readers may also find useful(http://www.leaderexperiment.com/better-office-games-howto/)
Good list, but I have a question… when it is possible (when there is time & we can really complete the process), I try to do #13. Consensus decision making. This worked very well with our agency when we changed names – we had a six-month “branding” process during which we met with staff, board & clients and received input from everyone, truly went through the consensus process and everyone ended up accepting the new name. So why is consensus “bad”?
Great point and question.
I posted once advocating for consensus decision making in the context of teams. I think the situation is the determining factor. Time lines, corporate culture, who takes responsibility are just a few situational factors.
Consensus decision making is clearly slower and I think tends to be flatter or some might say more well rounded.
Another factor in decision making is gathering opinions and making people feel heard before deciding. I don’t think of this as consensus decision making. It’s gathering information or perspectives.
I have found that single points of responsibility are more effective. Single points of responsibility should include the authority to make decisions that best fulfill responsibility. Few things are worse than being responsible but unable to make decisions.
Thanks for bringing this up.
Your last point really resonates with me, regarding single points of responsibility. One of the fastest ways to lose a good leader is to give them all of the responsibility but none of the authority. As for consensus, if you’re going to go that route, then it’s really important to commit to it and see it through, otherwise you end up with folks who wonder why they stuck their necks out and went through the time-consuming, agonizing process of seeking consensus, only to see the boss discount their input or make a top-down decision.
I’d add to the list – taking things personally. Whether intended to be personal or not, the ideas and positions of others must be considered from a professional perspective. Passion on specific issues and outcomes must be considered in light of the organization’s best interest which may be better served through valued leadership than a single decision. Retain your objectivity.
Good morning Dan. This is a pretty comprehensive list so have little to add. I would say that as leaders sometimes we are afraid to engage our team on a more personal level. To know them and their idiosyncrasies, their personal wants and goals. The more we know about each other the more effectively we can work together. Cheers, 🙂
Tolerations….people, situations, behaviors, environments, pressures, expectations, restrictions, stress,constant delays etc.Tolerations are expensive. There are immediate costs, such as discomfort, emotional reactions, loss of energy, friction etc. And the other costs are missed opportunities because you’re too busy ‘dealing with’ tolerations (even subconsciously), so don’t have the bandwidth to see and fully respond to personal and business opportunities which are occurring all around you. It’s hard to do that high level thinking if your mind is otherwise occupied.
Great list Dan, if you whittle #7 down to just ‘Pretending’, the list might become as as short as the Top Ten.
Great post! I really like the discussion Greg started about not voicing objections. I also very much agree that you need to find a new organization if your values don’t align with the upper administration!
My favorite on your list is #3 – Choosing the easy way for you rather than the best way for them. I think it is so tempting when we are so busy and in the middle of all the “stuff”! Thanks for the reminder!
What are the most tempting temptations leaders face?
I don’t know how it fits in as a temptation, but I think “believing your own press” and/or forgetting what it felt like to be a subordinate instead of a leader have to be temptations. Although it’s not a leadership example, it still comes to mind – when my daughter and I were in Guatemala this summer, we visited one of the projects coordinated by the agency with whom we were traveling. The 39 of us had spaces at a “main” table – it was decorated beautifully and the chairs were covered with white linen and pink ribbons (like at a fancy wedding). Everyone else (hundreds of people) was standing, gathering however they could, waiting for our every move before they took care of themselves. It felt so incredibly undeserved. I could see how we could start feeling like we deserved that same treatment everywhere – if we warranted it there shouldn’t we get it everywhere else? Although I know the community wanted to greet us in that elaborate way and the message was to accept their gratitude graciously, I am still feeling the undercurrents/lessons learned from the disparity and how unsettling it felt to be happy to be in the comfy chairs while knowing it was just an accident of geography (for the most part) that placed us there.
What temptations do you feel as a leader?
See above. We must never lose sight of everyone’s hopes/dreams/perceptions.
I am interested to know more about the destructive behaviors by high performers. I am new to the business world and I am certain I have not encountered that phenomenon yet.
Great questions. High performers can be highly competitive. they may use people to get ahead. They may undermine others to make themselves look good. It’s a mistake to think that all backstabbers and gossips are poor performers. High performers may not integrate well into teams. High performers may be arrogant.
Obviously, managers try to mitigate weaknesses and maximize strengths. Sometimes it can be tempting to let a high performer abuse others or violate established protocols.
#27 – Missing #LeadershipChat on Tuesday nights. How many of the world’s problems would have been avoided just by brainstorming with all the smart folks who….oops, this is sounding a little self-serving…(looking forward to having you guest host with us tonight, Dan!)
Great job on this post.This is an inspiring and accurate list of what temptations not to succumb to as a leader. I also like the point form structure you gave it. My personal favorites are #4 and #9.
I would add to your list: the leader’s temptation of masking the truth in difficult times.
This can happen when the organization is going through a rough time and the leader is confronted with the choice of either informing his workers about it or not by fear of a global demobilization.
The leader’s lack of faith in his workers’ ability to face the truth can subsequently decrease his credibility and his ability to influence others to achieve a common mission.
Once again, great work! I enjoy reading your posts.
Edith Luc, Ph.D.
Sorry for the late reply, but I love the list and how it concerns my business. I am a high school football coach and biology teacher in Texas. We have just completed our football season with a record of 0-10. My biology classes have just scored the highest 9 week test scores of any teacher in the district (4 high schools-20 teachers total). In my classes we have avoided almost all of the 25 descriptors, while in football (i am an assistant coach, no leadership responsibities) we have adhered to almost ALL of the above 25. I can see it so clearly, yet it is difficult for our head coach and coordinators to see it or admit to it. There is no difference to leading a group of 50 football players as compared to 110 9th grade biology students. Thanks for article. Coach Bear
Pingback: The top 25 temptations of leadership « Management Briefs
What a great list – 😉
I’m not as good on the whole “300-word” thing as you (my wife says ı talk too much, too) ,-) …but you and your co-bloggers might like this:
Take care – love the blog 😉