The 3 Most Dangerous Things Leaders Don’t Do
Sincere leaders fall flat because of things they don’t do.
The 3 most dangerous things leaders don’t do:
#1. Acknowledge when it isn’t working.
Fear of failure prevents leaders from acknowledging failure.
Tenacity keeps leaders doing things that aren’t working. You rose to leadership because you finished things.
Don’t put your head down and work harder when it isn’t working.
- Open up and seek feedback.
- Define success before you start.
- Avoid words like more and better.
- Set goals that are easily seen and tracked.
- Determine what you’ll do if you fall short, before falling short.
An acknowledgement that it isn’t working isn’t the same as quitting.
#2. Forgive and give second chances.
It’s easy to resent those who seem to care and work less than you. You’re the hardest working, most dedicated person on the team. Why don’t they bleed for the cause like you?
Serving requires the seeking of another’s highest good. You can’t feel resentment and seek another’s highest good at the same time.
Resentment destroys relationships and justifies neglect.
#3. Intentionally create positive experiences with and for teams.
I see leaders nod their heads at the power of positive environments. But, heads stop nodding when I ask them for examples of what they’re actually doing to build positive experiences.
- Establish high expectations. Low expectation disrespects talent. People never rise up when the bar is low.
- Treat people like human beings, not machines.
- Have more positive than negative exchanges.
- Honor the goals they’re shooting for as much as the goals they’ve achieved. “Tell me what you’re working on. How’s that going?”
Make positive experiences a daily practice. Dinner out is nice, but connecting at work is better.
What dangerous things do leaders leave undone?
How might leaders create positive experiences, forgive, or acknowledge when things aren’t working?
Too often leaders don’t encourage, commit, and lead fair and honest retrospectives of completed or ‘cut-short’ projects. Sharing what went wrong as well as what went right and sharing this information transparently (available to anyone internally) shows you are confident in your team’s ability to succeed despite shortfalls and open to helping other teams learn from your experience.
Thanks James. You made me think about the issue of repeating mistakes because we can’t or won’t own them. Such a powerful idea.
Love the connection between acknowledging shortfalls and confidence in the team. Brilliant.
Exceptional post! The quote above, “Fear of failure prevents leaders for acknowledging failure.” is precisely what I witness every day. When our self-worth is directly tied to our performance, we will inherently seek to make ourselves look good through our performance. I would argue this inward focus makes leaders unavailable to be presence, as self-focused people are perpetually inward focused.
The greatest men and women that I have had the opportunity to meet fail quickly, take responsibility, and courageously keep going.
Thanks Bruce. Your comment fuels my fire to be better while warning me about the danger of self-focused leadership. Challenging.
Something I would like to add to #3 is that of trust. Trust is earned, not given. I sense it’s a two-way relationship growing initiative that many “armchair leaders” have a hard time developing and evolving. When leaders “Don’t Do” trust, the leader is not a leader but merely the “boss”, which in my humble opinion, has drastically different acknowledgement levels and meaning.
Thanks Jeff. It’s nearly impossible to create a positive experience apart from trust. Great addition.
Thinking about what leaders leave undone, maybe looking at themselves is one of them? Should leaders check they’re leading in the most effective way and in the right direction regularly?
Thanks Chloe. You make me think about self-reflection. Let’s face it, when things get hectic, what gets neglected. It’s hard to measure the short-term benefits of taking a look at your own leadership journey. It’s especially difficult when we think we have it all together. Thanks for poking the box.
What dangerous things do leaders leave undone? I think too often leaders revert to telling others what to do when the going gets rough and this is the time when being curious is invaluable. I think when leaders tell others what to do, they fail to gain clarity about is going wrong, and without gaining an understanding of the root cause of the failure, making change so they can move towards success, becomes much more difficult to achieve.
How might leaders create positive experiences, forgive, or acknowledge when things aren’t working? I think leaders need to become curious, open and non judging towards others and deepen their understanding through testing assumption and possibly reframing their thoughts, their approach.
What perilous things do pioneers leave fixed? I think over and over again pioneers return to advising others what to do when the going gets unpleasant and this is the time while being interested is important. I think when pioneers advise others what to do, they neglect to pick up clarity about is happening, and without picking up an understanding of the underlying driver of the disappointment, making change so they can move towards achievement, gets to be considerably more hard to accomplish.
In what capacity may pioneers make positive encounters, overlook, or recognize when things aren’t working? I think pioneers need to wind up inquisitive, open and non judging towards others and develop their seeing through testing supposition and potentially re framing their contemplation, their methodology.
The most dangerous thing leaders don’t do is develop relationships. When others don’t know you, they don’t care. They can’t trust. You may be out front but no one is following, you’re not leading, you’re just taking a walk.
The most dangerous thing is to not have your peoples’ backs. They’ll soon know, and you’ll go from leader to manager. You’ll get to lead yourself, because no one will want ot be associated with you, except under protest or by force.