5 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

One short outburst produces surprising turbulence and distrust.

A small offense causes disproportionate harm.


Because bad is stronger than good, you gain disproportionate advantage when you eliminate bad.

Eliminate language that holds you back:

Running with two feet on the ground takes you further than hopping with one foot in your mouth.

Self-harm is unintended unless you’re a complete idiot, but our ability to self-sabotage with our words is remarkable.

Foolish words make the climb longer and the hill steeper.

#1. Don’t celebrate the misfortune of others.


  • Explain what should have been done, after screwups happen.
  • Say, “I knew that wouldn’t work.”

Malevolence toward the misfortune of others disqualifies you from leadership.

Empathy expands leadership.

#2. Don’t belittle incompetence.


  • Point out the reason someone is failing but refuse to get your hands dirty helping.
  • Make negative comparisons between team members.
  • Nit-pick what’s wrong.
  • Talk BIG about yourself and small about others.

#3. Don’t manipulate people with compliments.

Manipulative language devalues the hearer and the speaker. The hill is easier when you respect the people beside you.

#4. Don’t repeatedly talk about the failures and offenses of others.

Don’t harp on offenses. Harping makes reconciliation unlikely.

Do confront issues quickly and move on.

Skillful leaders strengthen relationships between team members. Incompetent leaders fuel tension and turbulence.

#5. Don’t affirm high performing jerk-holes.

The people you tolerate, defend, and support create the culture you experience.

When you affirm jerk-holes you devalue relationship and demotivate generous behavior.

5 ways to get a grip on words:

  1. Relationships improve exponentially when you stop speaking harshly. (The Power of Bad)
  2. A strong urge to speak signals the wisdom of inquiry.
  3. Use words to strengthen relationships between team members.
  4. Lower your voice when you feel like raising it. Project calm resolve.
  5. Silence your tongue when you feel like flapping it.

What self-destructive words/behaviors hinder a leader’s success?