Conquering 12 Deadly Leadership Sins
Leaders who never make mistakes are confused and blind.
The day of savior-leadership is coming to an end. Everyone knows the emperor has no clothes.
If you have it all together, you don’t.
Deadly sin of ignoring doubt:
Doubt may be wisdom’s voice, not weakness.
Burying doubt, when you feel uncertain, limits leadership. Leaders who can’t question themselves, can’t be questioned by others. But, courageous leaders ask, “What if I’m wrong?”
Courage without doubt is overconfidence.
7 ways to deal with doubt:
- Run a pilot program.
- Seek advice from someone who has already walked the path.
- Express doubts and concerns with your inner circle. Explore what-ifs.
- Explain how you’re addressing concerns in public.
- Build cultures where learning from failure is celebrated.
- Be decisive but stay open.
- Admit when you were wrong and press forward. Pretending you were right when you were wrong makes you look like a fool.
Deadly sin of relying on arm-twisting:
Arm-twisting works for awhile. But, when team members feel pressured, engagement goes down.
High coercion results in low engagement.
Validating isn’t endorsing. People engage if they feel heard and understood. But, if their perspective isn’t validated, they dig in, push back, or drag their feet.
8 ways to influence without arm-twisting:
- Pull-back when you feel push-back.
- Explore resistance.
- Ask questions before making statements.
- Grasp goals tightly and methods loosely.
- Make decisions after considering alternatives.
- Change your mind once in awhile.
- Explain yourself.
- Express gratitude for compliance.
10 deadly leadership sins:
- Believing what works for you works for others.
- Putting self-interest first.
- Neglecting self-reflection.
- Vision without execution.
- Tying identity to results.
- Thinking people serve you rather than the organization.
- Adopting leadership methods that don’t reflect your strengths.
- Focusing on problems and minimizing successes.
- Failure to adapt as you go.
- Giving allowances to yourself that you don’t give to others.
Which leadership sins are most deadly?
What suggestions do you have for overcoming leadership sins?
Facebook fans fill in: “The reason leaders fail include _______.”
Tying identity to results is the norm in most places. You become “the one who…” whether it was something good or bad. That reputation stays with you and defines you. Even when you point to the work that others did to support the effort. Even when you note that anyone could have made that mistake. Even when you work to demonstrate the ability of others or of yourself to do more, do better, do different.
Thanks Stephanie. So true! We can’t control the way others tie performance with person-hood. We see someone who does something “great” and we automatically think they are great. But, history proves that “not so great people” do “great” things.
As I read, I thought about the difficulty of learning that we aren’t what we do. Doing is part of who we are… it often expresses who we are … but we are something more than doing machines.
Dan, I’m convinced you wrote this just for me…but when does too much doubt (aka lacking self confidence) actually limit the leader’s effectiveness?
Thanks Brian. You bring up an important issue. When is doubt detrimental. I think that should be an entire post.
Do you think the simple answer is doubt is detrimental when it stalls forward movement.
We may doubt the best path forward but never doubt that you will move forward. Perhaps an advantage of doubt is that we move forward with our eyes open and prepared to learn and adapt as we go???
Hey Brian, Interesting question you posed. I thought about this and it seems to me that doubt does not always have to come from lack of self confidence. Doubt because you have a “bad feeling” about something or doubt because evidence shows that some information is missing is what I think Dan (the Freak) is talking about. This is the doubt we want to listen to. On the other other hand, doubt from self confidence is a different animal. Lacking self confidence is essentially fear of the future, of what might happen. It stems from the mind not wanting to be in this moment and the creation of a bunch of what ifs that probably will not happen. To gain self confidence we have to retrain ourselves to be ok with this moment first and then know we can be ok with the moment that the decision we are working on is made. When we know that we are going to be ok then we can free ourself to make a decision based on information and not our of fear… These are thoughts from a crazy man (I am told) so I doubt what I say here not out of fear but because I may learn new information later that may change my understandings…. -Shane
Love your take on this Shane.
Hey Brian, the answer is….ah that would be the wet part of the ocean.
True confidence stemming from knowing oneself at their deepest meaningful level…provides a peace and a knowingness that passeth all understanding.
Vision without execution is my fatal flaw, for fear of unwelcome change is my cause. I recently took on an unpaid board position (as president nevertheless) and my character is adapted to being humble and persevere with focusing on the positive rather than negative. One sin I would add to your list is miscommunication. This leads to more problems than solutions and can cause detrimental effects should it occur (which it inevitably does sometimes). It seems the last list is also very focused on arrogance or excessive pride- numbers 1,2,3,5,6,7,9, and10- which of course is not an appropriate attribute for a true leader.
I always enjoy your posts and regain motivation and momentum to keep heading in the right direction, thanks for this!
Thanks Heidi. Thanks for adding miscommunication – lack of communication – too little communication – confusing communication…
If I could boil many leadership failures into one, arrogance would have to be it.
Agreed. Leaders don’t function effectively alone and working in a team or group environment is just that, more than one person working together to accomplish a task or goal. The leader’s role is to (among other things) facilitate/guide/ensure the achievement of said task or goal.
An obviously large problem with arrogance is it doesn’t play well with others, and how can you lead without the cooperation of others?
Well, Know Thyself!
Do that everything else will be added to you to complete your mission.
Complete detains deep within!
Go within or go without, choose!!!
Thanks Scott. NOt taking time for self-reflection may be the worst leadership sin of all. If we can take time to reflect on our behaviors we might see the other sins… like arrogance, for example.
Yeah you know Dan what I have discovered.
The difference between genuine self belief and propped up ego based whooey.
I happen to have a very high opinion of myself!! I also have a very high opinion of Gods other kids!!!
That happens when the Spiritual Malady is overcome.
Now used to I would see a person who really believed in themselves. My reaction would be, what an arrogant dummy!!
The reason was because I did not like me and therefore that person must be lying!!!
Now since I KNOW how Awesome I am when I see others with True Confidence I figure those are folks who traveled the path like me and found the same glorious Truth!!
We are all Gods kids, an eachness in the allness of God and everything is gonna be alright!!
See Dan once I got that stuff that used to bother the heck out of me don’t seem that important anymore!!
Ain’t that something?
Complete details within!!! Oh the humanity of the dreaded typos!!
Re: #6 as William Wallace says in Braveheart: “You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.” Leaders are to serve for the good of others.
Thanks Pete. Powerful!! Love Braveheart!!
Reason leaders fail: Procrastination.
Thanks Michael. Successful leaders have a bias toward action. Bingo.
There is a lot of pith in here today, Dan. Several points stand out, but Failure to adapt as you go is the big one. I’m thinking of a visioning process I led a couple of months back. It was a full day retreat and my execution plan for the exercises was extremely detailed. My co-facilitators were all inexperienced and we had to have several “run through meetings” before the retreat.
On the day of the retreat, the morning was fabulous. We stayed on track and the output was amazing. But around 1:30 in the afternoon it was clear that the process was headed into the weeds. While the participants were in a breakout session, I gathered my assistants and laid out a revised plan. “We will drop this game all together, and then shrink this one and bring it in here. Now, here’s what I need…” One of my assistant’s was appalled. “But Steve, if you drop that exercise, we can’t get to your goal.” “Remember, John, this execution plan is just a framework. The goal is theirs, not mine. It is our job to clear the way so that they can get to their goal with the tools they need to be successful.”
I think it is the same way with writers of fiction. If the writer has created good characters, the characters tend to take over and tell the story themselves. Consequently, the story may not end up in the same place the author originally intended. The author, though, is still in charge of the structure, and may have to edit that structure in order to make the characters (and the story) successful.
Thanks Steven. It takes courage to adapt as you go. Congrats!
This post should be required reading of all who consider themselves, or who aspire to be, leaders.
Thanks Scott. I sure know that I need it. 🙂
Agreed! Actually, I think this BLOG should be required reading of all who would like to find success. Many (if not all?!) of the posts are beneficial to people outside of the work environment, as well!
Hope you know how much you are appreciated, Mr. Rockwell!
Thanks so much, Dianna. It’s a joy to be on the journey with you.
Plenty of timely and good advice on this blog lately Dan. I find myself stopping by every day since I found out about it. Somehow you’re advice is aimed right at the dilemmas I’m experiencing. Weird, but in a good way!
Thanks David. It’s a pleasure to serve. Best for the journey.
Hi Dan I would like to add execution without vision, which really, really personally irks me! Keep up the great posts and have a lovely weekend Dan!
Thanks Diana. I love it when people feel strongly about things. If I get you right, we better know the destination before we start on the journey.
One of my most frustrating experiences with leaders is when they resist self-reflection. I think you have to be reflective to make good choices for a group and to sort out when you are acting on self-interest. This can be a real struggle for some to understand.
What you say is very true. But, apart from the self obsessed leaders themselves, I think that many people down the line expect leaders to be infallible.
To watch the motions of leaders who think they are infallible, but are blind, please do watch the news coverage of my country’s(India) elections, which are going on these days
Good tips Dan! But they are focused on the leader when the real focus should be on the employees the leader is “supposedly” leading. The focus should be on achieving the goal of managing/leading people which obviously is to have a highly motivated, highly committed, fully engaged workforce of Superstars who love to come to work to collaborate with other Superstars to achieve excellence every day. In this state, employee performance will approach what Stephen Covey senior stated as the possible performance gain – 500%, not 5% or 50 % but 500%.
I managed people for over 30 years making all the mistakes one can make in my first 12 years as I was focused on myself and not on my people. When I changed to focusing on them by listening to everything they had to say and responding to their satisfaction or better (even if it meant explaining why they could not have what they wanted, their performance started to rise. The more I listened and responded, the better they performed. I admit that there are a lot of reasons why this approach solved all my problems as well as unleashed their full potential and a lot of details as to how to listen and respond, but focusing on employees was the key.
Insecurity about leadership position. This is at the root of several of the 12 you mentioned. This is why leaders hate to admit being wrong. This is why the don’t seek the counsel of others. This is why the alienate sharp and talented team members.
If you operate under the fear that someone may challenge or take your position you have robbed yourself of the freedom that is required to truly lead and inspire.
Thank you for this! I often times reflect back on my day and ask whether I made the right decision or handled a situation the correct way. As I do that sometimes I question my confidence level…you have just helped confirm that reflecting and questioning are strengths of a leader, not weaknesses. Thank you!
Hello, Leaders are making sins if they think that they don’t have a mistake and blame employees.