Five Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders

Ultimately as a leader, you’re evaluated on how you interact with people. If you do it well, you develop a reputation as effective leader. If you don’t, you develop a reputation for being a highly ineffective leader. ~ Douglas Conant

What do you do when your leadership style just isn’t working anymore? You’ve become ineffective, and you know it. Maybe you’re burned out. Maybe your workplace environment has changed.

Either way, things aren’t working the way they used to, and you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong and how you can correct it.

Possible Roadblocks

You need to look at your habits, and think about what you’re doing wrong. The following isn’t by any means everything that could be making you an ineffective leader, but it should give you a few things to consider. Read on.

1. You’ve Stopped Caring About Your People

It’s in your attitude, isn’t it? You’re in a meeting with one of your people, and you’re texting, reading your email, and just generally doing anything you can to avoid dealing with the person who’s sitting in front of you.

Of course it’s only because you’re really very busy, but the best-case scenario for how people read you here is that you’re being rude. The worst-case scenario is that you’re saying, “I could not possibly care less.” How do you fix this problem? Simple. Put people first.

2. What You Say Isn’t What You Do

You expect certain standards from your people. In fact, you demand certain standards. But you don’t expect the same thing from yourself as you do from your people. You tell your people that they have to strive for excellence, but in your own practices, it’s “close enough is good enough.” You’ve stopped leading.

How do you fix this problem? Work to a high standard. Your people take their cue from you.

3. You Make It All About You

When something goes right, you take the credit. When it goes wrong, you say it’s because your team sent you under. Good leaders take responsibility when things go wrong, and they share the credit when things are good.

How do you fix this? Remember that you’re not an island. If you do well, it’s because you had great people supporting you. If it’s all in the toilet, your people didn’t make that happen without you enabling them. Accept that you’re part of a cohesive group.

4. No One Else’s Time Matters

Do you keep your people waiting while you arrange your desk, check out your LinkedIn profile, or go to the bathroom? If you give even your most mundane tasks priority over people, you’re giving the impression that you think you’re the only person who matters.

It looks from the outside as though you’re occupying a pedestal, putting yourself up higher than others. Well, technically, you are up higher – after all, you’re the leader – but you’ll command more respect from your team if you value their time as well as your own.

5. You Have a Sense of Entitlement

You behave as though because you’re the leader, you can behave any way you like. Maybe this means you don’t speak respectfully to others, or that you try to strong-arm your team into doing things your way. And realistically, no one’s going to stop you from behaving this way, but it’s not an effective management style.

Remember that you set the standard for behavior, and that if you take an authoritarian, “do it my way” approach, you’re telling your team that flexibility is a bad thing. You’re stifling creativity, and discouraging effective communication. A more open approach where everyone’s input is valued, and treated respectfully, yields better results.

Be the Model

Good leaders consider the people who work with them and for them. They set a good example, and they don’t use their position to manipulate others. Maybe you can lead by force and intimidation in the short term, but it will catch up with you. To be an effective leader, be the kind of leader you’d like to follow.

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