5 Things Good Leaders Don't Do - America's Future Foundation

August 4, 2020

LeadershipProfessional Development

5 Things Good Leaders Don’t Do

By: Chloe Anagnos

Being a leader in a professional setting is not easy. 

To some, leadership skills might come naturally, whereas to others, being put on the spot makes for a bad case of anxiety. Regardless of what camp you find yourself in, being a leader involves making difficult decisions and, at times, taking measures that might feel counterintuitive. 

Knowing when to act against your first intuition, however, is what makes the difference. 

Those who are known for their leadership skills aren’t known for being stubborn to a fault. Instead, they are known for being open to changing their minds when shown their strategy might not be working. 

In order to keep an open mind while occupying a leadership role, leaders must be ready to hear their habits aren’t cutting it. In this article, we go over some of these habits and why they aren’t fitting for anyone in a leadership role. 

If you are guilty of committing any of these, you might want to reconsider. Unless, of course, you’re not ready to be the leader people want to follow. 

1. Refraining from Providing Feedback
Everyone gets it. Leaders are in a delicate position. 

But assuming a leadership role means you’re ready to do what it takes to keep pushing the business forward, even if that means having tough conversations with employees every now and then. 

If a leader sees an otherwise hard-working team member acting in an unprofessional manner or embracing behavior that could be detrimental to the company in the long run, a leader has the duty to take action immediately.

Waiting until a more appropriate time or until a scheduled performance review to speak up will only make matters worse, as certain habits will alienate co-workers in the long run. 

2. Insisting on Unproductive Meetings
One of the most often discussed phenomena in the modern-day business world is how many meetings often seem to be a waste of time — especially if those involved could have simply shared the information disseminated during a meeting to the rest of the team via email. 

Because meetings often take time away from work, they shouldn’t be as regular or as lengthy that workers feel battered toward the end. 

To many, meetings are an unnecessary drag that keeps them from finalizing their tasks. Worse yet, they feel that whereas leadership might seem satisfied with the results, they learn nothing new from them — especially if these meetings are held weekly. 

In order to help your employees feel both more involved and less frustrated, ask yourself if the purpose of some of your team’s regular meetings could be achieved through other means. 

Are there processes that require all team members’ attention, or can you, as a leader, discuss certain aspects of your business with a handful of employees separately? 

Are there questions that can be asked in an email thread? If not, would you be open to using email or even written surveys instead of a regular sit down?

While meeting with team members face to face is important for leaders who want to show employees they listen, this is better done on one-on-one conversations, not impersonal meetings. 

By taking the time to talk to employees directly, leaders show they are truly willing to go the extra mile to get their input. A meeting, on the other hand, is often seen as a chance for bosses to talk about themselves rather than get people’s feedback. 

Changing the dynamics and allowing employees to employ their work time more wisely will pay off in the end. 

3. Offering the Wrong Incentives
As business leaders, we often tend to think of employees as parts in an engine. But more than puzzle pieces that come together in perfect harmony to paint a pretty picture, employees are motivated by incentives.

While money is the first thing that might come to mind, some employees will feel more or less motivated by other types of perks. Especially nowadays, when many of us can perform so much of our work online or remotely. 

Perhaps, your team would like more schedule flexibility or a chance to perform some of their work from home. 

Others might simply want to make their own schedule, especially if they are parents and have to adapt to their children’s ever-changing needs. 

To listen to your employees and actually pay attention to their needs might help to keep them loyal even if you are unable to offer better monetary incentives as often as you wish. 

4. Unwilling to Take Risks
Might sound somewhat of a gamble, especially for a new leader, but taking risks is part of playing a leadership role. As a matter of fact, risks come in all shapes and sizes. Leaders don’t have to risk too much of their company’s assets or good name to make exciting changes that will actually help boost the company’s standing in the market. 

To progress professionally and to help your team grow in the process, you must look beyond potential obstacles to spot new opportunities. And in order to see beyond the horizon, a leader must encourage his or her team, involving them in the decision-making process. But when an opportunity presents itself, it’s up to the leader to take the first step. 

If things don’t go your way at first, it’s important to keep in mind that setbacks aren’t the end of the world. They happen to teach you important lessons and will help you reach higher over time. All you need to do is take ownership of these risks and be ready to assume the blame as well when things don’t go as planned. 

5. Taking Good Workers for Granted — While Tolerating Bad Performance
Loyal employees will work hard to deliver, and leaders should take notice. 

Much like trying to figure out what kind of incentives team members are after, praising hard workers when possible will go a long way. But that doesn’t mean that ignoring employees doing bad or sloppy work should be part of your leadership model. 

Good workers notice when leaders overlook poor performance and that will eventually hurt the performance of all team members. 

Thinking like a leader means acting like one. And you simply can’t lead if you’re not willing to break both the good and the bad news to those who rely on you for guidance.