Working with a team this week to design a leadership development program made me think hard about what great leadership looks like. And what well-intended things managers do that ultimately turn into leadership fails.

Think these things are assets?

  1. Having all the answers
  2. Only giving positive feedback
  3. Moving quickly from one project to the next
  4. Focusing on what your team’s doing now
  5. Working all the time

Think again. They’re hard-core leadership fails. Here’s why…

Leaders: have all the answers? You probably have other leadership fails, too. Kick your bad leadership habits to the curb. #leadershipfails #leadershipdevelopment Click To Tweet


1. Having all the answers

One of the biggest lessons my clients who are new to management learn is that they don’t need to know and do everything. It’s such a relief!

Of course, there are things you as a leader do need to know more about than your team does…like the strategy and goals of the organization and how your team’s work fits into them. But one of the best gifts you can give your team is allowing them to contribute their knowledge and expertise to everything from designing goals to troubleshooting customer issues.

Solutions designed by the group will probably be better than something you could whip up by yourself, too.


2. Focusing on what your team is doing now

There’s a lot to be said for being present. However, leaders who think about the here and now to the exclusion of the future are missing out. Big time.

You could (and should) be focusing on what each of your team members could potentially do.

Career growth and development are critcal to employee engagement, so thinking about your team’s individual career paths – and making sure each person has a clear development plan — should be top of mind for you as a leader.


3. Only giving positive feedback

Everybody loves positive feedback, right? Well, sorta. Positive feedback only is meaningful when the recipient feels that it’s authentic and fair.

Making sure your folks learn from their mistakes is important, too, and if you’re only giving the positive stuff (even in the very best way), they may not know where a course correction could serve them well.

Ask them for their insights and input on how things could work better. It can help your team capture important learning AND feel more positively about it.


4. Moving quickly from one project to the next

A lot of my high-achieving clients like to move on to their next adventure as soon as possible after they’re finished with a project. That can be a mistake.

Asking your team to reflect on what went well and what could be improved next time can save time and effort on their next project.

And celebrating helps your folks tap into the energy of completion and really cements the feeling of success. So they’ll want do it again. And again.


5. Working all the time

You might think that your over-the-top work ethic shows strong leadership, but in reality, it’s stressing your team out.

When you send emails at 10 p.m. or 3 a.m. (and you’re not in another time zone), it can be super-hard for the people reporting to you. They might think that you think it’s normal to work during those hours. And wonder if they should reply to your note in the moment. Even if you say that’s not your expectation.

And if you have those work habits, be honest. There’s a little bit of you that digs it when others do, too. Stop that.

One of the best things you can do for your staff is to help them manage their time. Which means you need to manage yours.


What leadership fails have you seen (or been victim of)? Drop us a note in the comments below.