8 Things Successful Leaders Don’t Do


We all know leaders who are highly effective and successful, and others who have behavioural traits that could use a tweak or two. Let’s take a look at some of the less effective behaviours that successful leaders avoid, so you can too.

Successful leaders don’t:

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1. Need people to like them

When you need people to like you, you become a victim. What you do, what you say, the decisions you make, are based on what is required to get people to like you. Successful leaders have good relationships based in solid self-esteem. They like people to like them, but if they don’t, it’s no big deal.

2. Rely on tradition and convention

When you are too bogged down in following precedent or convention you don’t think outside the square and may miss opportunities. Successful leaders respect tradition, but aren’t bound by it. They are looking for the new and different, for innovation and change.

3. Wait for others to make decisions for them

When you are indecisive or hold back from making decisions you are not stepping up. Successful leaders weigh options and make decisions often in ambiguous situations. They are bold and trust their own judgement.

4. Avoid the difficult and challenging

When you avoid dealing with difficult situations or people, or you procrastinate, you are selling yourself short and giving in to fear. Successful leaders may not like dealing with some issues, but they dive in anyway. They know that putting things off doesn’t help in the long run and dealing with things early may prevent a big issue down the track.

5. Get too critical or challenging with people

When you are too tough dealing with people and their ideas it scares them off. They will stop raising issues and ideas when you are around and that means that you may never hear about something that could make a big difference to your business. Successful leaders know coaching brings out the best in people and creates a culture of innovation and ideas.

6. Need to be in control all the time

When you hold the reins too tightly and micromanage people it stifles them. People won’t do their best work with you looking over their shoulders all the time. Successful leaders know that they are best served by surrounding themselves with highly competent people and letting them get on with the job.

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7. Compete all the time

When you are highly competitive it creates a culture where your people do the same. When teams compete they may withhold vital information from others because it gives them an edge. Worse, they may undermine others to stay ahead. Successful leaders know that knowledge sharing and focus on the big picture are the more healthy ways to behave.

8. Demand perfection all the time

When you do this, it sets people up to fail. Perfection is impossible and when you punish the imperfect, people stop telling you about mistakes. They blame shift, duck responsibility and get stressed. Successful leaders know that the end goal is more important than the details and when things go wrong it is a huge opportunity to learn.

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What other behaviours have you observed that hold leaders back from effectiveness? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.

Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 25 years. Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

Visit www.shapingchange.com.au to pick up your complimentary copy of Ros’ e-guide to Leading Change. Written for managers who are tasked with leading organisational change, the guide presents practical steps to leading successful change.