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How Leaders Shoot Themselves in the Foot


Everyone engages in self-defeating behaviors. “Part of my job is helping people get out of their own way,” Joel Garfinkle author of Getting Ahead.

Which of these self-defeating behaviors hold you back?

  1. Hiding from what you really think or feel.
  2. Over thinking and under acting.
  3. Focusing on “why” at the expense of “what” and “how.”
  4. Complaining.
  5. Blaming.
  6. Excuse making.
  7. Avoiding.

Self-defeating behaviors first live in our heads. We are what we think. Shirzad Chamine identifies 10 internal enemies – internal Saboteurs – in his new book, Positive Intelligence.

  1. Judge. Everyone suffers from an internal judge who constantly finds fault with self, others, and circumstances. Shirzad calls the judge the master Saboteur.
  2. Stickler. The need for perfection, order, and organization taken too far.
  3. Pleaser. Being compelled to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, or flattering others constantly.
  4. Hyper-Achiever. Depending on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation.
  5. Victim. Feeling emotional and temperamental as a way of gaining attention and affection.
  6. Hyper-Rational. Intense and exclusive focus on the rational processing of everything, including relationships.
  7. Hyper-Vigilant. Intense and continuous anxiety about all the dangers surrounding you and what could go wrong.
  8. Restless. Constantly on the search for greater excitement in the next activity or through perpetual business.
  9. Controller. An anxiety based need to take charge, control situations, and bend peoples actions to one’s own will.
  10. Avoider. Focusing on the positive and the pleasant in an extreme way.

Shirzad rightly points out the inner judge is the ring leader of self-defeating attitudes and behaviors. Frankly, at one time or another, all ten have been guests in my head. How about you?

How do leaders shoot themselves in the foot?

How do you deal with inner saboteurs?

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