Behaviors That Derail Leadership Success, and Why Your Habits May Be Holding You Back

Beth Miller |

leadership-derailment

We all know leaders who have failed, and the media is, of course, full of examples. But can leaders prevent their own failure? Are there certain behaviors that leaders can watch out for, or change, if they want to reach their highest potential?

According to research, the answer is yes. Various studies and experts have revealed behaviors that get in the way of high performance. If you’re a leader, or you want to be one, ask yourself if you behave in any of the following ways.

20 Bad Habits that can Derail your Success

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the best and most successful executive coaches, believes that good manners is good leadership and that bad habits keep successful people from reaching even more success. His bestselling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, defines 20 bad habits of leaders:

  1. Winning too much. The need to win no matter what. Goldsmith says that the hyper-competitive need to best others is at the heart of nearly every other behavioral problem.
  2. Adding too much value. Successful people often feel that they can improve on other people’s ideas. The problem, says Goldsmith, is that the idea may be improved, but the other person’s commitment is reduced.
  3. Passing judgment. If people are voicing their opinions, it’s not a good idea to needlessly judge them.
  4. Making destructive comments. Negative comments can quickly harm working relationships. It is one thing to be critical (and criticism is needed) but leaders need to be constructive, not destructive.
  5. Starting with “No”, “But”, or “However”. The overuse of these negative qualifiers reveals to everyone that you think that you’re right and they’re wrong.
  6. Telling the world how smart we are. When leaders say, “I already knew that” or otherwise announcing their smartness, this turns employees off.
  7. Speaking when angry. When leaders get angry, they are usually out of control.
  8. Negativity or “Let me explain why that won’t work”. The need to explain our negative thoughts even when they won’t help the situation.
  9. Withholding information. This one is about power. We refuse to share information with others so that we maintain advantage over them.
  10. Failing to give recognition. When leaders don’t take time or remember to recognize success, they deprive people of the emotional payoff that comes with success. (In a 2012 study, nearly 80% of employees cited recognition as the main motivating factor in their career.)
  11. Claiming credit we don’t deserve. This can be highly annoying to your employees. Ask yourself, who else made this success possible?
  12. Making excuses. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as permanent, so that people excuse us for it.
  13. Clinging to the past. People often dwell on the past, Goldsmith says, because it allows them to blame others for things that have gone wrong.
  14. Playing favorites. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
  15. Refusing to express regret. Saying, “I’m sorry” and meaning it, turns employees into your allies.
  16. Not listening. When leaders don’t care, they show their employees that they don’t care. Goldsmith says this is the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect.
  17. Failing to express gratitude. Leaders need to be able to give praise and reward.
  18. Punishing the messenger. The misguided need to attack those who are most likely only trying to help us.
  19. Passing the buck. The need to blame everyone, except ourselves.
  20. An excessive need to be “me”. Making a virtue of our flaws because they express who we are is “one of the toughest obstacles to making positive long-term change in our behavior,” Goldsmith says.

Listening to others feedback about your leadership behaviors can help you realize which of the bad habits above you may have.

What bad habits have are holding you back? And how can you change your behavior so that it doesn’t derail your success?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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