5 Painful Leadership Blunders Successful Leaders Avoid
The sting of doing your best and falling short is a giant kick in the gut.
5 painful leadership blunders:
- Believe others perceive you the way you perceive yourself. Blind spots prolong frustration. Powerful influence requires strong connection.
- Forget how power causes others to adapt to you. You seldom hear the unvarnished truth.
- Win every discussion and control every decision. The more you control others the less energy they have. When you aggressively push back:
- Subordinates feel forced to either argue or back down. Many will back down.
- Observers learn to shut-down and clam-up.
- You feel powerful, but you weaken your team.
- Speak first. I can always spot the power person in a group. They tend to speak first and most frequently. Or, they give permission for others to speak.
- Too many options – too few decisions.
7 ways to rise above painful blunders:
- Seek feedback.
- What do you think I’m trying to accomplish? (Don’t tell, ask.)
- What am I doing that makes you think that?
- What am I doing that hinders my performance?
- Where am I most effective?
- How am I impacting others when I’m at my best? Worst?
- Find insightful, courageous people to speak into your life. Look inside and outside your organization.
- Interpret your impulse to seize control as a nudge toward giving it.
- Breathe deep and stay open when others push back.
- Invite others to talk, when tempted to control conversations.
- Use questions to create focus. Ask more. Tell less.
- How might we achieve a 3% increase in revenue?
- What could we do to attract top talent to our organization?
- What’s important right now?
- How does this help us move forward? In what way?
- Prioritize staff development. Stop complaining about the people around you. Develop them. If they resist development, remove them.
Bonus: Enhance energy by eliminating options.
What painful leadership blunders have you seen?
How might leaders deal with painful blunders?
A very good post indeed. Knowing and doing are vital for leadership journey. We know many things, but we hardly do those things. On this basis, we can divide people- knowing, doing and both. Many people only know. They are smart at giving advices and have answers to every problem. Doing people believe in doing. They do not claim they know, but start doing. They are really powerful people. They know the importance of their time. They use it well. There are others, who fall under both category. They know what they do and hence has more emotional intelligence than previous two category of people. They drive more energy and connect to their purpose with passion.
When people fall under first category, it becomes blunder. They do not believe they do not know. They try to win all arguments. Dealing with such leaders is difficult and waste of time unless they realise themselves. Third category of people are real leaders who know their potential and purpose. They influence others and encourage them to connect with their purpose by being role models.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. Your categories are helpful to this discussion. I find that nearly everyone is good at one thing. People who go further are people who are good at two things. Often those things are contrasting. Take getting things done coupled with compassion as one example of being good at two things.
I’ve seen many of these behaviors in multiple work situations and in social and family settings. Staff development is one area that seems extremely difficult for leaders; is this because of HR policies? If folks resist development, they are not always removed. Most often, they seem to be tolerated and their behavior becomes accepted or minimized. This is unfortunate for the individual, team and for the organization. NO wins there…
People on a team who demonstrate these 5 leadership blunders are like cancer cells. Their effect grows, permeating the culture, lowering morale and can eventually ravage entire departments when they are not excised or at the very least, controlled.
If only we could all be honest with ourselves.
Lots of food for thought in this post. Thanks, Dan!
Thanks Dr. Pinzon. Bringing these ideas into a team/culture context expands their importance. It helps us all see that our behaviors impact others. It’s easy to just go about your business and not think about impact until things go wrong.
We all mess-up. Leaders don’t cover-up (although we’re all tempted to) they face-up. Your “seven ways to rise..” are a great starting ground.
I’m always surprised how quickly my instincts go to defensive, and that can disrupt a constructive tone. – your “Interpret your impulse to seize control as a nudge toward giving it.” is a great nugget!
Thanks Ken. I’m with you. My first impulse is defend and explain rather than explore. Love: mess up – don’t cover-up – face -up. Nice.
A timely reminder for anyone who holds a leadership position. Never let your ego and pride get the better of yourself. Thanks, Dan!
Thanks Albert. Ego drives our blunders. We think we’re helping the situation, but it makes things worse. Some how, I still want to hang on to my dark friend.
Dan, I think a giant leadership blunder is to have a great staff member quit for no apparent good reason. Either they are suffering from “workplace depression”—thinking or living in the past, or “workplace anxiety”—thinking or living in the future.
Why do they quit…either leave a company or quit performing? Each of us quits for our own reason. But I believe most of us quit because we allow fear to overwhelm us. The thoughts of what “may” come grow stronger and stronger. We focus on “future” junk we “think we may” have to endure and how difficult the road ahead might be.
It‘s like we are standing on the threshold of our success, perfectly at ease, reasonably confident, BUT we are anchored by thinking we “might” have to sacrifice a bit more and be challenged again, and the thought we “might not be able to make it.” Our fear builds and builds. The mind looks for a release, and the persons who quit find their release in the bell.
Others who don’t quit simply don’t let fear come to rest in their minds. They recognize the feelings and they think, “Welcome back, fear. Sorry I don’t have time to spend with you right now,” and they concentrate on the job of helping others, for example.
Imagine a staff member thinking of the past and how he or she was blamed, judged
or disbelieved on a project that went sour. Fear and negativity destroy performance. Most importantly, they destroy trust, confidence, spirit, and will.
It’s important to care for the minds and hearts of our staff members—and even seek to orient the mind–to move from negative thoughts and starving them, to feeding the positive. I say this can be achieved via a simple specific process: 1) Negativity cognizance; 2) Interdict or stop the negative thoughts with a power statement; 3) Redirect the mind with self-talk and imagery to something positive and productive for a current goal; and 4) Maintain a new mental state using the ONE WORD power statement in its six dimensions (mental, spiritual, physical, relational, emotional, financial).
Why do people (including us) quit? Perhaps because we allow our mind to fill up with darkness and not light…all the things that could go wrong but haven’t and usually don’t.
Thanks Books. I enjoy watching your mind work. You came at this from an interesting angle. Loosing great people is the worst lose.
Your first point, “Negativity Cognizance,” may surprise some readers. I’m totally on board with this idea. Pretending to be positive when you see negativity eventually makes things worse.
“I like it!” Fear often renders the physically strongest of men, (IMPOTENT)”.
“I refuse to live in fear …”
I agree. I find those who have a problem ‘saying NO’, and those who try (too hard) to ‘make EVERYONE Happy’ are the type you speak of who speak positivley wevenn though the circumstances and outcomes are Negative.
Eventually, followers of this type of leader will eventually lose energy & enthusiam as the leader watches committment, results, and mission & vision suffer.
K. I. S. S. – (Keep it simple stupid), S T U P I D…
Please pardon me, Dan, for not responding sooner. I just saw your excellent comment to my response. Thank you. Sincerely, I was not thinking about “pretending to be positive” when I wrote about Negativity Cognizance–or the ill effects you mentioned “making things worse.”
I can’t take credit for your brilliant observations and conclusions. I was simply thinking about being aware of “our negative thinking,” which often many of us are not: Negative thinking is commonplace until we become aware of it and do something positive about it.
From your ongoing critiques of my thoughts, Dan, I am learning immensely about myself and others–and especially coaching. I can see where you don’t walk in to organizations of all kinds and change things, rather “refine leadership.” You really do “watch how minds work,” what’s right, and what’s already being done well. Any coach or consultant can change and “criticize” things. But not everyone can identify with leadership and with leadership issues and thoughts– and make “sandpaper” refinements that are the difference between good and excellent–and still belong to the organization’s leader…and not Dan Rockwell. Excellent, Dan. Congratulations.
Good morning Dan;
Dan I sincerely believe #1 is the BIGGEST, (and most frequently repeated), Leadership ‘Blunder’ of em’ all. A leader can be totally commited to a concept or, process, and present it in what they believe is a clear and concise manner, only to find he and his team, (or Organization), are ‘NOT’ reading from the same sheet of music.
None of us think alike. As well, many receive and perceive direction & infromation much different than the next guy. Successful leaders understand the importance of (Building a sence of Community) with the people whom work for them, ‘especially’ with the Teams & people they work closest with. This building community requires people to get to know oneanother. As such, ‘successful’ Leaders learn to adapt their directions and expectations to the different idiosyncrities of their people. It only takes a small bit of, (Para-phrasing, Mirrowing-Back, or Summerizing, to realize weather others understaand our direction, or if we need to re-phrase, or re-package our direction.
We don’t all act the same. Why should we as Leaders expect our people to all think/perceive the same. “Find ways to connect with your people and get to know them.” It’s a surefire recipe to success, and it create’s a wonderfully pleasant working enviroment.
Leadership & Success,, “it’s ‘all about’ PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST !!!”
What a brilliant post.
I agree wholeheartedly!
I particularly resonated with the ‘unvarnished truth’ reference.
Thank you for all your posts – I learn so much and they push me to reflect on my own practises every time!